Recycling and product stewardship are dynamic, rapidly expanding areas of activity that are playing an increasingly important role in the economies of the developed world. More and more, the traditional cycle of manufacturing, use, and disposal is being replaced by what has come to be known as product life-cycle management, which involves preparing for the ultimate reuse or safe disposal of items right from the outset of their design and development. These developments have been particularly significant in relation to consumer products such as computers, other electrical and electronic items, and white goods.
This article discusses these emerging developments, drawing on the findings of a review of relevant recent publications. It examines the changes taking place in the recycling industry, with a particular focus on North America and on the recycling of electrical and electronic consumer goods, and identifies their main drivers and their implications for industry participants. A case is put forward for the use of enterprise information systems in this sector, the limitations of traditional management information systems are discussed, and a number of key recommendations to help organizations adapt to and remain competitive in the new recycling industry environment are offered.