Out with the old, out with the new - The effect of transitions in TVs and monitors technology on consumption and WEEE generation in Sweden 1996-2014


The recycling of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) is important due to its content of valuable and hazardous compounds. This study investigates the case of the recent technology change within television sets (TVs) and monitors, its impact on the generation of WEEE, and the implications for the recycling industry. In particular, material flow analysis for the time series of 1996-2014 for TVs and monitors by type of technology (CRT, Plasma and LCD) in physical units is combined with empirical data on product lifespans. The number of consumed TVs and monitors has grown exponentially. As a result, despite a 3-fold reduction in the weight of the products, the weight of the corresponding WEEE is also growing exponentially. Out with the old, out with the new - a peak in VVEEE from both CRT and flatscreen displays is expected during 2014-2020, due tothe simultaneous obsolesce of the last wave of CRT products and the short-lived flat-screen products that substituted the CRTs. The lifespans of LCD and LED TVs were found to be three times shorter than of the CRT TVs, with many TVs discarded while still functional. This is the consequence of two events - replacement of the CRT TVs in combination with lifestyle purchases of TVs, i.e. the premature replacement of flat-screen displays with new sets with extra-large screens and/or new features. The throughput of TVs and monitors consumed has been estimated annually from 2014 until 2040, by quantity and type of device, as well as by component and material type. The annual economic value of the corresponding secondary materials, by material type, has also been estimated. The point in time when the final disposal of CRT products is likely to take place has been identified and should be noted by the recycling industry. Among the important contributions of this study to the accounting and predicting of amounts and types of WEEE are the lifespan distributions, size and weight distributions, and material composition for TVs and monitors of different technology. Directions for method application in other countries are given.

Waste Management
Leonardo Rosado
Leonardo Rosado
Associate Professor

Studying cities from an Urban metabolism perspective. Its flows and stocks, its functions and needs. To provide information towards urban planning and circular economy.