Greenhouse gas emission offsetting by refrigerant recovery from WEEE: A case study on a WEEE recycling plant in Korea

Jihwan Park, Insang Jung, Wonhee Choi, Sang Ok Choi, Sung Won Han

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)


The demand for new electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) has resulted in short replacement cycles for this equipment. This has led to the generation of a large amount of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). The proper disposal of WEEE is essential in order to manage greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, as refrigerant injected EEE is a potential source of GHG emissions. In this study, carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) emissions from recycling activities that resulted in GHG emissions via refrigerant recovery were quantitatively evaluated. The evaluation was conducted based on the operational data from a WEEE recycling plant in 2016. To estimate CO 2 emission and offsetting effects, mass-balance and carbon-footprint analyses were conducted. The mass-balance data showed that 22,804 t of WEEE were recycled in a plant. The carbon-footprint analysis estimated that CO 2 emissions from all recycling activities, including all machinery and vehicles as well as fossil fuel and electricity use, reached approximately 4.097 × 10 3 tonne of CO 2 eq. Meanwhile, the CO 2 emissions prevented by the manual recovery of refrigerants (5186 kg) from WEEE accounted for approximately 2.877 × 10 4 tonne of CO 2 eq. These results, based on data from a recycling plant and showing an offset of CO 2 emissions by a factor of 7.02, demonstrate that refrigerant recovery could potentially reduce emissions by 2.467 × 10 4 tonne of CO 2 eq. per year. This study will demonstrate the optimal methodologies for estimating CO 2 emissions and offsetting, and inform environmental policy by providing an alternative approach to the problem of global warming.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-176
Number of pages10
JournalResources, Conservation and Recycling
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Mar 1


  • Carbon footprint
  • CO emissions
  • Greenhouse gas
  • Offsetting
  • Recycling plant
  • Waste electrical and electronic equipment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Economics and Econometrics

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