Friday, May 2, 2014

A Collaboration of 3 Academic Generations on E-Cycling + Sustainable Supply Chains

We recently received some great news.

Our paper, "When and for Whom Would E-Waste be a Treasure Trove? Insights from a Network Equilibrium Model of E-Waste Flows," was accepted by the Editor of the International Journal of Production Economics (IJPE) for publication.

This paper was co-authored by Professor Tina Wakolbinger of the Vienna University of Economics and Business in Austria, Professor Fuminori Toyasaki of York University in Canada, Thomas Nowak, a doctoral student being supervised by Professor Wakolbinger, and me.

Both Tina and Fuminori were my former doctoral students in Management Science at the Isenberg School of Management and worked in my Supernetwork Laboratory so this collaboration across three countries and three academic generations is extra special. Fuminori and I had earlier written the paper, "Reverse Supply Chain Management and Electronic Waste Recycling: A Multitiered Network Equilibrium Framework for E-Cycling,"  which was published in Transportation Research E in 2005, and it continues to be one of my most highly cited papers according to Google Scholar.

The abstract of our IJPE  paper is reprinted below.

E-waste is the fastest growing waste stream. Due to its potential economic value as well as its possible negative impacts on the environment, tracing e-waste  flow is a major concern for stakeholders of e-waste management. Especially, whether or not adequate amounts of electrical and electronic equipment waste (WEEE)  flow into the designed recycling systems is a fundamental
issue for sustainable operations. In this paper, we analyze how technical, market, and legislative factors influence the total amount of e-waste that is collected, recycled, exported and (legally and illegally) disposed of. We formulate the e-waste network  flow model as a variational inequality problem.

The results of the numerical examples highlight the importance of considering the interaction between the supply and the demand side for precious materials in policy-decisions. Low collection rates of e-waste lead to low profi ts for stakeholders and they make it difficult to establish sustainable recycling operations. Increasing WEEE collection rates increases recyclers profits; however, it only increases smelters' profits up to a certain limit. After this limit smelters cannot benefit further due to limited demand for precious materials. Furthermore, the results emphasize the importance of establishing international control regimes for WEEE  flows and they show possible negative consequences of the recent trend of dematerialization. More precisely, product dematerialization tends to decrease recyclers' and smelters' profits as well as increase out flow of e-waste from the designated recycling system.

Isn't it great to have research on sustainable supply chains capture the imagination of several academic generations?!

The photo above, taken in a cafe in Vienna, Austria,  is of Thomas Nowak, Professor Toyasaki Professor Wakolbinger, and two other former doctoral students of mine, Professor Dmytro Matsypura of the University of Sydney in Australia, and Professor Jose Cruz of the University of Connecticut.

Mother's Day is just around the corner and I am a very proud Academic MOM!