If it is not possible to reuse components or to adapt them for use in other products the materials contained therein have to be recycled. For this procedure it is essential that materials can be unequivocally identified by means of standardized labeling. Products containing materials that have not been labeled correctly very often end up in a waste dump although recycling of materials would be possible.
Recycling of materials requires the use of uniform or at least recyclable materials. If the product contains incompatible materials these should be separable. For the purpose of material recycling separation need not necessarily be nondestructive, predetermined braking points, too, are an appropriate solution. Design should ensure easy separation of different materials.
In many products the use of harmful or valuable substances is unavoidable. These harmful substances (which would impair recycling) or valuable substances (which retain their high value only when treated separately) should be easily identifiable to ensure that they are extracted and recycled. Lacking or incorrect labeling or cumbersome disassembly counteracts this objective.
If reuse of parts of the product is not possible the goal should be recycling of materials at the highest level possible. Recyclability may be a decisive factor in selecting materials if there are alternatives with equivalent properties.
Surface coating typically forms an inseparable compound with the base material. This should, however, not impair recyclability of materials. Intelligent design of components and selection of adequate materials will ensure compatibility of materials for recycling.
In order to be able to dispose of process materials and unavoidable hazardous substances in an environmentally acceptable way one has to ensure that they can be separated from components after use. This requires simple extraction and adequate labeling of components containing harmful substances.
Usually, consumers are not prepared to take great efforts for the disposal of a product. An environmentally acceptable disposal should therefore be simple and should not require means the regular end-user does not have. In addition, it is useful to provide the user with information concerning adequate disposal and to encourage correct user behavior.
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