Environment-cost analysis diagram of a waste product for the identification and prioritisation of product elements requiring improvement and its application to a waste refrigerator


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Abstract

A method based on an environment-cost analysis diagram is proposed here for the identification and prioritisation of product elements requiring improvement. The method involves quantification of environmental and cost aspects of assemblies, components, and materials of a product in its disposal stage through the use of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and cost analysis, respectively. Relative significance of the environmental impact and cost are calculated and plotted on an environment-cost analysis diagram that results in identification and prioritisation of product elements requiring improvement. The method also helps to set up improvement strategy by analysing attributes of components and materials related to the cost and environmental aspects. The proposed method was applied to a waste refrigerator. Product elements requiring highest priority for improvement include incineration of Polyurethane Foam (PUF) and incineration of other plastics. Those requiring higher priority for improvement include recycling of steel and Acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) with respect to the cost aspect, and refrigerant, R-134a, to the environmental aspect. Weight of steel and ABS is the attribute of a refrigerator that causes problems in the cost aspects. Improvement strategies would include design for light weighted product and optimisation of the waste disposal pathway. Global warming and recycling potential are two major attributes of refrigerant that cause problems in the environmental aspects. Improvement strategies would include development of recycling technology, use of recyclable materials, and use of natural refrigerant that does not cause global warming.

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