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Thursday, August 6 • 17:00 - 17:30
Agent-Based Modelling of Cooperation in WEEE Management: The Case of Colombia

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As a result of population growth, technological development and change in consumption patterns, amounts of waste of electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) have increased significantly in recent years. At the same time, the demand for natural and scarce resources like precious metals and rare earth elements required to produce electrical and electronic equipment has increased. As a result, urban mining has become a sensible means for curtailing the effects of increasing WEEE. This implies a systemic policy making approach which includes both consumer and producer responsibility in WEEE management. Moreover, cooperation between different actors is imperative. Therefore, policy making should involve a holistic understanding of the different processes in WEEE management (production, distribution, consumption, collection, recycling, disposal), its various but interdependent dimensions (technical, social, environmental, legislative, economic), as well as the diversity in actors and their respective interests and motivations. In this context, modelling and simulation tools become necessary to support policy makers in making more systemic decisions.

This paper proposes that, by linking actor-network theory (ANT) and agent-based modelling (ABM), policy makers are enabled to create an in-depth reconstruction of historical trajectories that can capture the dynamics that have led to collective patterns (whether successful or not). In addition, this ATN-ABM link helps to represent the agency of both human and non-human actors interacting in a particular environment. In this proposal ANT is used as a novel theoretical approach for ABM which has been applied within an exploratory case study in the context of WEEE. A methodological framework has been applied to design an agent-based model aimed at answering the following question: How to orchestrate individual interests of producers, distributors and WEEE managers to achieve stability of cooperation?

The purpose of the resulting model, implemented in Netlogo 5.2, is to illustrate the potential impact of different levels of cooperation between government, producers and distributors of electronic and electrical equipment, as well as managers of WEEE. Depending of the individual interests of parties and the starting point of the alliance, a potential stability of the cooperation is generated. This cooperation is materialized in the adoption and implementation of strategies aimed at improving WEEE sustainability. These strategies-towards-sustainability (STS) are mechanisms intended to encourage consumers to deliver their WEEE back to the system, and which include a mix of physical artefacts, economic incentives, educational strategies and supporting social-environmental projects. In addition, the STS could be implemented under either collective or individual scheme, and in both cases cooperation between producers and distributors is needed.

The agent-based model can generate simulated scenarios showing cooperation stability, depending on individual interests and agreements, and how they evolve towards alignment or otherwise breakdown. The various scenarios enable analysing and anticipating potential success of specific STS in transforming cooperation over time.

One of the main reasons for using ABM is that emergent collective patterns of behaviour can be explored. As preliminary results, e.g., although historically significant events in WEEE management, such as a regulatory milestone from environmental authorities, can generate an initial cooperation between actors, it does not provide high potential stability of the cooperation to develop. The ABM implemented also showed that when producers autonomously decide to implement individual take-back strategies (which anyway need cooperation producer–distributor), their interests can be satisfied; nevertheless, in a collective system the potential stability is higher. 

The scenarios generated in this ABM represent past events in the case study and help to define potential stability of cooperation that emerge based on the interest of actors involved in alliances and the origin of these agreements. However, it is necessary to show also the denouement of the cooperation in time, which is being developed through a complementary ABM that involves the dynamics between the STS and consumers behaviors.

Presenter / Artist
avatar for Ass. Prof. Sandra Méndez-Fajardo

Ass. Prof. Sandra Méndez-Fajardo

Assistant Professor, Javeriana University
PhD Candidate, Doctorate in Engineering, Javeriana University, Bogota, ColombiaSolid Waste Management, e-Waste, Agent-Based Modelling, Sustainability, Community participation

Thursday August 6, 2015 17:00 - 17:30 CEST
Copenhagen 2 Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany

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