A proposed integrated model to assess product recovery pathways: The case of solar photovoltaics
Nehika Mathur, Buddhika Hapuwatte, KC Morris
A Circular Economy (CE) is facilitated by the closing of material flow loops. This requires the development of complex collection, sorting, and product recovery mechanisms. Besides infrastructural challenges, product recovery is further complicated by the manufacture and consumption of increasingly complex multi-component and multi-material products whose design often limits efficient disassembly at the end of product life. The lack of information on how to treat end of use (EoU) products and the associated costs further inhibits recovery-related decision-making. Thus, the default EoU treatment is often simply landfilling and/or incineration resulting in the loss of valuable resources. In addition, resulting environmental degradation may be avoided when other product recovery strategies such as recycling, remanufacturing and direct reuse are applied. This paper proposes a system dynamics tool inspired by the materials recovery hierarchy to understand the sustainability impacts of EoU recovery. The model evaluates environmental trade-offs for alternate product recovery strategies prioritizing the recovery of EoU products, sub-assemblies, components, and materials over more destructive options of landfilling and incineration. A case study centered around EoU solar photovoltaic (PV) panels is used to validate the model.
, Hapuwatte, B.
and Morris, K.
A proposed integrated model to assess product recovery pathways: The case of solar photovoltaics, Procedia CIRP LCE, New Brunswick, NJ, US, [online], https://doi.org/10.1016/j.procir.2023.02.015, https://tsapps.nist.gov/publication/get_pdf.cfm?pub_id=935793
(Accessed February 28, 2024)