The rapid enhancement in technologies in the construction of computers paved the way for greater cost-efficiency. Thus, computers are becoming more powerful and affordable. The relatively high-computing power of 21st-century computers increases their value; therefore, the demand for the goods will go beyond the expected level in the past years. At the same time, the relative affordability of the said devices leads to the inevitable expansion of the market. It results in a significant increase in the number of prospective consumers that are able to acquire personal computers, desktop computers, and laptop computers. The end result is a greater strain on environmental resources. There is a need for effective programs that will lead to a cost-efficient and profitable way of conducting reverse logistics processes for end-of-life computers (Partridge, 2011). Using ideas gleaned from the study of conventional reverse logistics programs, the proponent of the current study suggests an enhanced design that integrates incentives for various stakeholders.
End-of-life computers (EOLC) suffer the same fate as other end-of-life electronic equipment with similar build and design. The complexity of the device is a challenge for the stakeholders that are attempting to recycle computers for future consumption or to transform the electronic into useful components for other manufacturing projects. In other words, it is a cumbersome and time-consuming process. Moreover, it is harmful to the health of the parties that are trying to recycle computers without adequate knowledge or the support of appropriate systems. Thus, the special organization would have made the noble gesture or business venture a successful and gratifying one.
There are many issues to contend with in the computer recycling methodology. The major challenge is the number of components within a typical desktop or laptop computer. Secondly, there are elements within the design of the computer that are potentially hazardous to the health of untrained disassembler or hobbyists trying to extract value from an EOLC. For instance, the particles that human beings would have potentially contact if they make a mistake in breaking down an EOLC while attempting to strip their parts, are hazardous. In the case of EOLC that have been in storage or sitting in junkyards for a very long time, the devices with built-in batteries are difficult to handle. It is especially the case if the said components are already in an advanced state of degradation and battery fluids are leaking out.
The goal of recycling is not just the collection of the more valuable components of the EOLC, but also the need to reuse a higher percentage of the equipment. Thus, the primary purpose of recycling and the reverse logistics program is to significantly reduce the number of computer parts that end up in the various landfills (Pochampally, 2009). The continuous dumping of materials in landfills will make it an unsustainable practice, not to mention that the practice is environmentally destructive. Thus, aside from recycling valuable parts and ensuring the safety of the workers and volunteers engaged in the recycling process, the designer of the system must also ensure a high level of recoverability. The aspect contributes to the reduction of waste products that end up in dumpsites, especially in countries with weak regulatory frameworks, and therefore, exacerbate the problem of environmental pollution.
The difficulty in removing recyclable materials at a high level of cost-effectiveness is the main reason for the low number of recycling centers in the world. Thus, it is important to think about the business side of the reverse logistics program. In other words, the policymakers and strategists must look into the profit-side of the endeavor. The organizations that engage in recycling activities must be rewarded for their efforts. The same aspect applies to the people at the bottom level of the supply chain, especially the end-consumers that have a direct impact on the success of the program. The consideration of the potential development of the appropriate incentives is prudent in order to entice the supply chain to support the project. Finally, the program must also consider the needs and aspirations of the manufacturers, because, in a well-developed reverse logistics program, the recycled materials from an EOLC will return to the production line that creates new computers.
Improving the System
The proponent of the study understood the basic requirements of a reverse logistics program in the context of EOLC by studying different sources. The particular background of the project is an article, which is a documentation of a study made by Ravi, Shankar, and Tiwari. The researchers pointed out that the recycling process must follow a standard flow of business operations in most manufacturing firms in order to develop a cost-effective way to recycle, reduce, and reuse components of personal computers, (Ravi, V., Shanker, R., & Tiwari, 2007). The process follows the input of raw materials, movement through the production cycle, logistical requirements for shipping to the distributors, and the local distribution to brick-and-mortar stores, or, in the case of online stores, to the consumers directly. According to the aforementioned researchers, a reverse logistics process follows the end-of-life-cycle of the computer, starting from the hands of the consumers or end-users. The final customer should send the user computer to the disposal facility or recycling plants. The suggested program provides a way to develop a comprehensive and applicable guide in the recycling and re-use of computer equipment and pertinent parts. However, the process of reverse logistics does not encourage the multiplication of recycling plants. At the same time, it does not provide any mechanism that encourages computer manufacturers to invest in a recycling plant or to engage in solid and sustainable partnerships with the end-users.
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In order to improve the process of enhanced reverse logistics program will be suggested (see Fig. 1). There are three areas for policymakers and analysts to focus on. The first one includes incentives for the end-users to participate in the reverse logistics program geared towards recycling and re-use of EOLC. The second area is the incentives for entrepreneurs investing in the said reverse logistics program. The third interest is incentives for computer manufacturers to develop robust business partnerships with business organizations that are developing reverse logistics programs. Stakeholders and other sectors of society should increase their involvement to increase the likelihood of the program’s success.
Incentives for End-Users and the Members of the General Public
It is important to develop incentive packages for ordinary individuals so that they are inspired to participate in the project that follows the main goal of re-using and recycling components of EOLC. Without the active participation of computer users and the general public, it is difficult to improve the information dissemination campaign that perpetuates the goal to reduce the number of computer components in landfills and dumpsites.
Two possible ways to develop the incentive packages for the end-users and the members of the general public. First, society has to understand their contribution when they help in their own little way the reduction of the amount of waste that is dumped into landfills. Consumers need to realize the environmental impact of their activities. The type of incentive is not expensive but is hard to monitor. The core component of the incentive is rooted in educating people regarding the value of recycling and reusing parts of EOLC. Once the grassroots initiatives reach success, consumers can help in multiplying the information dissemination efforts. In fact, the workload is shared between the recognized agencies and ordinary individuals, such as students, professionals, and entrepreneurs.
The second part of the incentive package for the end-users comes in monetary form. In other words, they have to receive a financial reward whenever they actively participate in the recycling and reuse programs. It takes effort to haul EOLC from consumer’s place of residence, offices, and other areas. Thus, a monetary reward will not only encourage them but also will provide the resources for the logistical requirements of moving the EOLC components. A reasonable monetary reward will improve the imagination of certain end-users to realize that they can have decent earnings if they multiply their efforts. Thus, the economies of scale derived from the systematic collection of large numbers of EOLC can motivate the citizens. They might realize a monetary reward that will make it worth to actively participate in the recycling and re-using initiatives.
Incentives for the Operators of Recycling Facilities
It is impossible to develop a successful reverse logistics program if policymakers and analysts ignore the critical participant group of the program. The businessmen and entrepreneurs should be willing to make the investment in time and monetary resources to establish a recycling facility. Therefore, the development of an incentive package for the businesses has the utmost importance. Policymakers and other stakeholders should establish a program that maximizes the earning potential of the said investors (Ilgin, 2012).
There are at least three ways to enhance the earning potential of company owners that participate in the recycling business. The first strategy is to help the management develop a more sophisticated way to harvest component parts from an EOLC. The second approach ensures access to the latest technologies that would increase their capabilities in recycling and re-manufacturing almost every single component of the EOLC. The third requirement is government support, which includes the introduction of tax breaks in order to increase the profitability of their respective enterprises.
The development of a more sophisticated way to harvest component parts related to an indirect method for creating incentives. However, the process is the most difficult to monitor. Also, business owners face challenges in seeing how the government and other stakeholders create the possibilities to invest in the recycling industry. However, the active participation of the stakeholders will inevitably result in the creation of innovative strategies to solve problems that have plagued the recycling industry, especially EOLC. Nonetheless, the emergence of new technologies signals to the corporate world that there is indeed a profitable way to operate in the recycling business. Therefore, innovation increases the participation of investors and entrepreneurs in the establishment of recycling plants for EOLC.
The government support in terms of tax breaks will boost the earnings of the recycling plants. Savings on the part of decreased tax obligations can help the business establishments to funnel more resources into the acquisition of sophisticated technology. Therefore, it will translate into more cost-efficient processes. The end goal from the perspective of policymakers and government agencies is to develop the recycling industry to the point that recycling facilities are able to produce high-quality raw materials for computer manufacturing firms.
Incentives for Computer Manufacturing Firms
There is only one major incentive for computer manufacturing firms, which is access to high-quality materials at a lower cost. The companies can purchase the same elements from the recycling facilities. At a more practical level, one can argue that it is impossible to create a one-stop-shop that meets all the requirements of a manufacturing firm. A recycling facility will have to ship the initial outcome of the recycling process to another company that purifies or enhances the raw materials to a high-grade level acceptable by computer manufacturing firms. For example, it is highly unlikely that a typical recycling facility has the capability to filter out or remove the impurities of the melted metal from the motherboard of a computer system and peripheral parts.
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Recycling facilities will have to ship the end-result of a recycling process to a company that specializes in transforming the recovered metals and other valuable items into top-quality raw materials. Thus, computer manufacturing firms will accept the raw material as readily usable in their current manufacturing process. The activities take a circuitous path, but manufacturing firms view it as an incentive. They do not spend the same amount of monetary resources when they purchased the recycled raw materials as compared to the mining firms. In other words, fewer resources are required to recover the raw materials from EOLC compared to mining the same resource hundreds of feet below the ground. Business leaders will see it as a practical way to reduce the operational cost of the company. As a result, they will readily invest in the recycling venture or business opportunity.
When computer manufacturing firms are attracted to the business model, the infusion of funds into the venture will create a chain-reaction of events. When additional funds are injected into recycling facilities and firms that are responsible for purifying the raw materials, then the business groups will be able to improve their harvesting capabilities. The operations of stripping off the computer into several parts, and smelting of the metals to recover it for future use will happen faster. As a consequence, the recycling process goes through a radical revolution phase, which improves the system. Computer manufacturing firms will see the outcome of their respective investments, and the cycle of profitability continues, resulting in achieving the major milestones in EOLC reuse. It is a win-win situation for everyone. However, it all begins by improving the incentives at the grassroots level and in the manufacturing firms.
Another form of incentive for computer manufacturing companies is to make them realize that they create a more sophisticated corporate social responsibility program. The idea will undoubtedly enhance their corporate image and attract more prospective customers.
The world will have to develop a more cost-efficient and practical way to address the increasing number of EOLC component parts that clutter landfills. The practice of dumping EOLC parts to landfills is an environmentally harmful human activity. Thus, drastic measures must be implemented to put an end to the damaging actions. The first idea is to increase the number of recycling plants all over the world. However, even though national leaders and businessmen are aware of the importance of recycling plants, there is a considerably low number of recycling facilities in areas, where it is needed the most. The problem corresponds to the lack of resources and low engagement of various stakeholders, especially in the computer manufacturing industry and the recycling industry. The proponent of the study pointed out that conventional methods of recycling do not take into account the need to develop incentives for the end-users, the entrepreneurs, and the computer manufacturing firms. However, each of the players might increase their investment and involvement in the recycling process. The introduction of incentive packages that will benefit the sectors will inevitably create a chain reaction of events that begins with greater involvement from the end-users. The increased activity on the grassroots level will improve the businesses with the recycling facilities. In the end, manufacturing firms will see the profitability of increasing their involvement in reverse logistics program, and their participation coupled with timely investments will make it lucrative for participants of the recycling and re-using programs for EOLC. Thus, it requires the involvement of different stakeholders and different sectors of society.