Products are designed for recycling with the goal of achieving more efficient and complete recycling than would otherwise be possible.
Let’s take Honda, for example. Their approach to design for recycling is to:
- Improve ease of dismantling and disassembling.
- Improve material identification.
- Improve ease of reuse.
- Improve ease of recycling.
Ease of dismantling is aided by physical design, as well as through effective communication and education. Honda is part of a consortium of companies involved in the International Dismantling Information System (IDIS) www.idis2.com. This information helps recycling operations in Europe more efficiently dismantle equipment and properly identify parts and materials for segregation. IDIS is regularly updated and shared.
Material identification is aided by information, as well as coding, such as by well known numeric codes for plastics such as PETE, HDPE, PVC, LDPE, PP, and PS. Reduction in types of material used, and utilization of materials most easily recycled, aids in design for recycling.
Additionally, design for reuse can be employed to make products more efficiently refurbished, or to make them more amenable to being repurposed.
Design for recycling should also consider reducing environmental risks that make products unsuitable for recycling. In some cases where the use of hazardous materials cannot be avoided, cooperative initiatives between manufacturers and recyclers should be undertaken to control risks to the recycler.
ISRI stresses that the financial burden of designing for recycling should not fall fully upon manufacturers, no more than the cost of recycling hazardous goods should fall fully upon recyclers. It notes that society benefits from Design for Recycling, and as such should support the development and implementation of such initiatives.