Use, Storage, and Disposal of Electronic Equipment in Switzerland

Environ Sci Technol. 2017 Apr 18;51(8):4494-4502. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.6b06336. Epub 2017 Mar 28.


Electronic devices contain important resources, including precious and critical raw materials. For an efficient management of these resources, it is important to know where the devices are located, how long they are used and when and how they are disposed of. In this article, we explore the past and current quantities of electronic devices in the in-use stock and storage stock in Switzerland and quantify the flows between the use, storage and disposal phase with dynamic material flow analysis (MFA). Devices included are mobile phones, desktop and laptop computers, monitors, cathode ray tube and flat panel display televisions, DVD players, and headphones. The system for the dynamic MFA was developed as a cascade model dividing the use phase in first, second and further use, with each of these steps consisting of an in-use stock and a storage stock for devices. Using a customized software tool, we apply Monte Carlo simulation to systematically consider data uncertainty. The results highlight the importance of the storage stock, which accounts for 25% (in terms of mass) or 40% (in terms of pieces) of the total stock of electronic devices in 2014. Reuse and storage significantly influence the total lifetime of devices and lead to wide and positively skewed lifetime distributions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cathode Ray Tube*
  • Electronics*
  • Microcomputers
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Refuse Disposal
  • Switzerland