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 journalArticlepeer-review

23 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 (CO2) 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 CO2 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 CO2 emissions from all recycling activities, including all machinery and vehicles as well as fossil fuel and electricity use, reached approximately 4.097 × 103 tonne of CO2 eq. Meanwhile, the CO2 emissions prevented by the manual recovery of refrigerants (5186 kg) from WEEE accounted for approximately 2.877 × 104 tonne of CO2 eq. These results, based on data from a recycling plant and showing an offset of CO2 emissions by a factor of 7.02, demonstrate that refrigerant recovery could potentially reduce emissions by 2.467 × 104 tonne of CO2 eq. per year. This study will demonstrate the optimal methodologies for estimating CO2 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

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Korea University Graduate School Junior Fellow Research Grant .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier B.V.


  • CO emissions
  • Carbon footprint
  • 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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