The research seeks to develop methodologies that aid in formulating the end-of-life strategies across a wide range of products. The analysis of current end-of-life practices identifies improvements to product design that reduce the impact of manufactured goods on the environment. There are two core parts of this research. First, the methodology determines what end-of-life strategy is possible according to the products' technical characteristics. Second, the research validates the method by comparing the proposed end-of-life strategies with current industry practice. The resulting software, the End-of-Life Design Advisor (ELDA), guides product developers to specify appropriate end-of-life strategies. The product end-of-life strategies include reuse, service, remanufacture, recycle (with disassembly) and recycle (without disassembly). Case studies from various industries detail the outcome of a product's end-of-life (i.e., what happens to a cell phone when it no longer functions or is outdated?). These case studies came from Japan, Korea, United States, and Europe. The product characteristics that influence the end-of-life outcomes the most are product wear-out life, technology cycle, level of integration, number of parts, design cycle and reason for redesign. ELDA succeeded in classifying end-of-life strategies in agreement with industry best practices for 86% of the products. The research compares the strategies these companies have taken in implementing new environmental policies and to discover the most streamlined and cost-effective method for moving towards environmentally friendly product designs. By understanding better the end-of-life strategy appropriate for the product, the proposed method can help the company develop appropriate and profitable end-of-life strategies for their unique position, systematically.
Kosuke Ishii and Ab Stevels