GAIKER will assess the environmental and social benefits of the pilot studies carried out on the project HR-Recycler applying the life cycle perspective
GAIKER continues defining the scenarios of the pilot demonstrations in which the performance of the solutions, developed within the HR-Recycler Project, will be tested and validated in real operation environments. The implementation of technical changes will introduce modifications in the existing recycling operations that will need to be evaluated. The aim of the study will be focus on assessing the environmental and social impacts due to the changes in the WEEE recycling process introduced by the project HR-Recycler compared to the current practice. Therefore, the project’s team is gathering information related to the current processes and will compare it with the one associated to the developed human-robot collaborative processes.The evaluation will be carried out using the life cycle methodology (LCA), to broaden the scope of the assessment and conduct a more holistic analysis. This holistic approach (“From Cradle to Grave”) is what allows to answer the question of how a certain product has integrally interacted with the environment. The environmental LCA methodology focuses primarily on assessing the environmental impacts associated with a product or service throughout its whole life and the social LCA (s-LCA), is a method that can be used to assess the social and sociological aspects of products and services, their actual and potential positive as well as negative impacts along their life cycle.Within the HR-Recycler project, to perform a fair comparative evaluation, it is necessary to include the processes directly involved in the pilots and the current processes and the relevant upstream and downstream processes. This is particularly important in the case of processes downstream as the new processes developed in the project should improve productivity and efficiency while increasing the recycling ratios and reducing the amount of waste generated in the WEEE treatments.The ISO 14040 and ISO 14044 will be the reference methodology to follow in the LCAs to do. In the case of the social LCA, the assessment team will also take in account the new Guidelines for social life cycle assessment of products and organizations, developed by UNEP/SETAC in 2020, which are based in the abovementioned standards.On the other hand, the function of the system to assess is to recover and recycle as many materials, components and products as possible, fulfilling the mandatory requirements of the legislation. Accordingly, it has been defined as the functional unit (FU) 1.0 t of products recovered from WEEE and available to be used as secondary raw material or reused as a component or product.Regarding the limits of the system, the operations of classification, dismantling and sorting of WEEE in each Use Case (UC), as well as the end of life (EoL) of the waste generated in abovementioned operations, have been included.