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Delft University of Technology

Designing Electronics for Recycling in a Circular Economy

Delft University of Technology via edX


Electronic products bring countless benefits to society, but their production and waste treatment also lead to numerous negative environmental and economic impacts. Since E-waste is the world’s fastest growing waste stream, governments are setting ambitious targets to help this industry transition towards a circular economy.

In a circular economy, products are designed to last. Yet every product will eventually reach the end of its functional life. Recycling can help recover the value embedded in its materials so that these can be used again to manufacture new products. However, – especially for complex products like electronics – applying this seemingly simple principle can raise big challenges.

This course supports designers, engineers and decision makers in the Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE) industry in making the transition towards a circular economy by exploring both Design for Recycling and Designing with Recycled plastics. Regardless of your level of design experience or your familiarity of the circular economy, this course will help you to either upskill or update your knowledge and improve your product design and materials selection.

You will learn how the recyclability of EEE products can be optimized through good design and how to utilize recycled plastic content in existing or new products using new methods. The course will examine inspiring examples and provide insight into current and future recycling technologies, legislation and business models.

The course includes a virtual visit to a waste treatment facility and contributions from industry experts across the electronics supply chain showing the impact of design and material choices on the recycling and recovery process of the materials you use, and how concrete Design for Recycling guidelines help overcome these issues. The course also provides case studies to demonstrate how DfR can be applied to your own designs.

This course is an initiative from the Delft University of Technology, Partners for Innovation, Rijkswaterstaat and frontrunners within the EEE industry from the RE-CET (Redesigning Electronics in a Circular Economy Transition) consortium.


Module 1: DfR at a systems level

  • Introduction to circular design strategies.
  • Introduction to design for recycling.
  • Introduction to designing with recycled plastics.
  • The recycling process on a systems level.

Module 2: DfR at the product level

  • EEE recycling processes.
  • Barriers to EEE recycling.
  • Design for recycling of EEE.
  • Case studies.

Module 3: DfR at the material level

  • Plastics recycling processes.
  • Barriers to plastics recycling.
  • Designing with recycled plastics.
  • Case studies.

Module 4: Futureproof DfR

  • Improving WEEE collection and recycling through alternative business models and user engagement (e.g. ownership models that enable closed loop recycling and updates to the EU’s EcoDesign Directive).
  • Future technological developments in recycling (e.g. new sorting technologies and chemical recycling).
  • Consequences for design.

Taught by

Conny Bakker and Ruud Balkenende


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