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Environ Sci Technol. 2007 Nov 1;41(21):7543-50.

What gets recycled: an information theory based model for product recycling.

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Department of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Room 35-234, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.


This work focuses on developing a concise representation of the material recycling potential for products at end-of life. To do this we propose a model similar to the "Sherwood Plot", but for products rather than for dilute mixtures. The difference is reflected in the material composition and the processing systems used for the two different applications. Cost estimates for product recycling systems are developed using Shannon's information theory. The resulting model is able to resolve the material recycling potential for a wide range of end-of-life products with vastly different material compositions and recycling rates in the U.S. Preliminary data on historical trends in product design suggest a significant shift toward less recyclable products.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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