esap Project: EEE product age

Collating data about the age of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) products at point of donation and disposal.

 This project covers the following esap theme:

  • Extending product durability through design and customer information.

Background

Data about the age of products when they are donated or disposed will help promote re-use of more WEEE. Increasing re-use would improve resource efficiency and create opportunities to generate economic value through commercial activity.

Project scope

The data from this project will provide supporting data for product design to increase product durability. It will also help to inform product marketing on durability and replacement cycles, to better reflect the average lifetime of products.

Project aims

The aims of the project were to:
• Develop a methodology for obtaining the age of EEE at the point of disposal or donation; and
• Utilise the methodology to obtain the age of a range of the five priority EEE items. 

Project overview
Serial numbers recorded for 5 priority products (TV, refrigeration equipment, vacuum cleaners, laptops and washing machines) from Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) and Approved Authorised Treatment Centres (AATFs).  1,769 serial numbers with photos were recorded over 12 sites.  A combination of desk based methods were used to age items. Of the brands selected to age, 75% were aged.

Results
By product type mean ages in years were found to be:

Product type

Sample size

Average Age (years)

Refrigeration equipment

229

10.7

TV

400

10.4

Laptop

147

9.6

Vacuum cleaner

104

8.3

Washing machine

93

6.3

Brand data was analysed, but data is sensitive and less robust due to lower numbers.  Ongoing systems to collect age data of EEE being discarded are proposed, with advantages and disadvantages outlined for each of the options.  No one clear methodology stands out.

Project outcomes

This project provides initial baseline data for WRAP and esap members to build on over the coming years. This type of real life disposal age data is not available in any format currently and this gives the opportunity to track how changes in manufacturing and consumer behaviour can affect the age, and also condition, of EEE at the point of disposal.

WRAP project manager:

Gillian Ward-Stokes
Gillian.Ward-Stokes@wrap.org.uk
01295 819917