Within the circular economy, the increasing complexity of the quickly rising amount of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) creates quite a few opportunities, but also challenges for reuse, repair and recycling centres. From an environmental point of view, it is very important to improve materials recycling and to extend the lifecycle of products.
An often observed obstacle in the extension of the product lifecycle through repair and reuse is that the product information, e.g. details on the product lifecycle, is gradually lost. This hampers sustainability. Recent innovative technological developments, such as smart vision systems and the Internet of Things (IoT), can offer a solution to these challenges. The partners of the SmartRE project will experiment and demonstrate how these technologies can be used for reuse, repair and recycling, and spread information on the matter. For example, the project will demonstrate how waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) can be identified with a camera, and how relevant know-how can be stored and shared. That will allow for generic and product-specific information to be made available for common white goods and electronic products. This is generally referred to as ‘digital twinning’, which is considered a major technological driver for circular innovation within industry 4.0.
The second-hand shop shops Kringwinkel Televil specialise in the reuse and repair of white goods, such as washing machines and fridges. Within the SmartRe project, the participating second-hand shops will experiment with and demonstrate the tools developed for the repair and reuse of ICT materials and white goods. For these second-hand shops, the added value of the project lies in:
Better documenting of knowledge and experience. This will maintain jobs that would otherwise be at risk of disappearing when operators need more knowledge and experience for the repair of increasingly complex products, consequently pushing up costs.
Better access to WEEE, 10% for reuse and/or repair through better cooperation with recycling companies.
Better availability of more targeted instructions for reuse and repair, as well as cheaper parts for repairs will allow for an additional 5% of products being reused and repaired.
It is expected that automatic creation of product information sheets and simplified administration will result in a 5% higher turnover.
KU Leuven (vertegenwoordigd door KU Leuven Research & Development en optredend voor Sustainable Engineering Research group)