In recent decades, a general topic has continuously raised general public's awareness and has grown in importance for all stakeholders in society: careful handling and protection of our environment. Over the majority of past years, the functions our planet provides have been considered as matter of course. But, step by step, mankind becomes aware that those services are not abundantly at our disposal. At the moment, fossil primary minerals and fossil energy is the main fuel for our economic, and, in consequence, of our societal life. In the last years, several scientists have already pointed to the fact that, at finite resources and definite annual consumption, in future we will have to face an inconvenient truth when mankind will run out of resources - this forecast is neither excessive pessimism nor conscious fallacy but a simple assessment of the situation. Some effects of scarcity are already partially perceptible now, and some individuals are already eagerly trying to mitigate those phenomenons. The majority, however, is not aware of the seriousness of the situation although the only conclusion to draw now, is to change our today's pattern of economical behaviour, start handling fossil resources more carefully and increase material efficiency throughout the entire economic world.
So, the order of the day reads as promoting and establishing a circular economy - or in other words - recycling. The term recycling refers to the use of waste inherent energy or material. The ultimate form of recycling is 'product recycling' which intends to reclaim both inherent material and energy, and to work up used products and parts so as an anew use is enabled. The current thesis deals with the big topic of product recycling and tries to contribute towards the big aim of a sustainable society. This paper's purpose is the development of a method which supports design engineers in evaluating part's eligibility for product recycling, also called reusing.
In the first part, the theoretical framework of recycling is discussed, terms are defined and general (preconditions of) assessment methodologies are introduced. After a discussion about the economic chances and limitations of recycling and a brief overview about existing assessment tools for determining reusability of parts / products, the developed assessment method is introduced. Subsequent to a short explanation of the method's structure, this thesis takes a dive in the detailed description of the underlying assumptions and thorough scrutiny of the method. In the chapter next to last, the developed assessment method is applied to a practical example in order to prove its usability and to verify the assumptions. In the last chapter the results are discussed and desiderata for future research are articulated.