Keywords: life cycle management, LCM, product recovery, product reuse, remanufacturing, recycling, disposal, consumer products, industrial ecology, Japan, end-of-life products, EOL products, environmental impact, product types, photocopiers, household appliances, disposable cameras, personal computers, PCs, automobiles, product attributes, after-market demand, reverse logistics, recovery technologies
What determines end-of-life outcomes for consumer products? Insights from the Japanese experience
Consumer products are increasingly the focus of regulations aimed at reducing their end-of-life environmental impacts. Products can vary along many dimensions – technological complexity, physical durability, rate of technological change and material characteristics. These attributes interact in complex ways with the market and with regulations obviating any straightforward relationship between product types and end-of-life outcomes related to reuse, remanufacturing, recycling and disposal. Comparative case studies of product types help in understanding these interactions. This paper does a comparative case study of five categories of products in the Japanese market: photocopiers, household appliances, disposable cameras, personal computers and automobiles. It identifies four drivers of end-of-life outcomes – product attributes, after-market demand, reverse logistics and recovery technologies – and examines the way in which these attributes interact to produce different end-of-life outcomes.