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News article14 June 20192 min read

Promoting a circular economy: ease of Disassembly Metric (eDiM)

Image: Product design for ease of disassembly will vastly improve the recyclability of products
Product design for ease of disassembly will vastly improve the recyclability of products
© AdobeStock Xuejun li 33180382

A joint KU Leuven and JRC scientific paper proposes a new robust ease of Disassembly Metric (eDiM) to calculate the disassembly time of products for repair, reuse and component harvesting.

By categorising disassembly tasks in six categories, this method provides insights on which disassembly tasks are the most time consuming and how the product design could be improved.

The new method, which makes a good trade-off between workability and accuracy, can help extend the lifetime and recyclability of products through improved design, thereby minimising waste and contributing to the circular economy.

Scientific contribution to Circular Economy standards

The EU action plan for the Circular Economy encourages three product design strategies: better material efficiency, product life extension and improved recycling efficiency.

It also calls for standards on material efficiency standards to set ecodesign requirements on product durability, reparability and recyclability.

In order to repair, reuse and/or recycle product components, they need to be readily accessible. This calls for intelligent design that ensures repair, reuse, and maximum recovery with minimum damage.

To date there are no standards regarding the material efficiency of products and the design for disassembly for lifetime extension and recycling.

This article provides the scientific basis for the development of such standards.

It also feeds the standardisation process, in particular that led by the European Committee for Standardization (CEN), the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC) and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) concerning the development of generic Ecodesign Directive standards on material efficiency.

Putting the method through its paces

The paper illustrates the use of the new method on the disassembly of an LCD monitor.

This case study demonstrates how the proposed method can be used in a policy context and how the calculated disassembly times per category can provide insights to manufacturers to improve the disassemblability of their products.

The results also demonstrate how the proposed method can produce realistic results with only limited input data.

Best forward-looking peer-reviewed paper

The paper has been awarded the newly established RCR 2018 Best Paper Award as one of the 3 best forward-looking peer-reviewed papers selected by members of the Resource Conservation and Recycling (RCR) Editorial Board.

Further information

Related Content

Ease of disassembly of products to support circular economy strategies Resource Conservation and Recycling (RCR) (published August 2018).

EU action plan for the Circular Economy

Ecodesign Directive

Resources, Conservation & Recycling 2018 Best Paper Awards


Publication date
14 June 2019