While there are many opportunities to make adjustments in how products are produced and consumed to reduce environmental impact, this dissertation focuses on product reuse and proposes a framework to evaluate the economic and environmental effects of proposed interventions in the product system that encourage end-of-life product to be guided toward environmentally preferred reuse or recycling paths. A novel aspect of the approach requires characterizing the product system structure to distinguish between those interventions that maintain the interaction dynamics amongst product system actors (producers, consumers and government), and those that alter the product system structure, enabling unintended consequences. The consumer printing sector serves as the backdrop to demonstrate our framework over three essays. This sector was chosen because inkjet cartridges have a variety of end-of-life paths available in the United States, but the majority is still routed to the municipal waste stream after a single use. The first essay utilizes Life Cycle Assessment to quantify the environmental impact of an inkjet cartridge compared to remanufactured and multiple refilling alternatives. Results confirm that inkjet cartridge reuse provides environmental improvement over new inkjet cartridges. However, inclusion of how consumers go about purchasing and disposing of inkjet cartridges in the functional unit revealed changes in consumer behavior can have more bearing on environmental impact than what product alternative was purchased. The second essay uses economic modeling to show that it is possible to raise social welfare and maintain the original manufacturer's profit by strengthening the firm's intellectual property rights in exchange for the firm implementing greener physical product attributes. The third essay considers the economic and environmental effects of a product take-back regulation that may encourage recycling in a collective implementation or remanufacturing of the durable printer in an individual producer implementation. While take-back only applies to the printer market, we investigate the spillover effects to the cartridge market that resides within our product system model. While a collective take-back scheme minimizes environmental harm, welfare is also minimized. Whereas, under an individual take-back scheme, environmentally preferred remanufacturing of returned durable products may lead to a reduction in environmental harm while increasing welfare.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Ink-jet printers--Equipment and supplies--Recycling; Remanufacturing; Product life cycle; Business logistics

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Department, Program, or Center

Sustainability (GIS)


Gaustad, Gabrielle

Advisor/Committee Member

Stiebitz, Paul

Advisor/Committee Member

Nasr, Nabil


Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works in December 2013. Physical copy available through RIT's The Wallace Library at: Z252.5.I48 K79 2013


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