Effects of car electronics penetration, integration and downsizing on their recycling potentials
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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OriginalversjonResources, Conservation & Recycling: X. 2020, 6 . 10.1016/j.rcrx.2020.100032
Car electronics form an extensive yet untapped source for secondary critical raw materials. To seize their recycling potentials it is imperative to understand how the number and volumes of car electric and electronic (EE) devices are affected by trends in: i) car typology, ii) penetration and integration of automobile electronic control systems (AECS), and iii) unit mass of EE devices. We used a layered dynamic material flow analysis (MFA) incorporating comprehensive data series to analyze the aforementioned trends and their influence on end-of-life mass flows of two automobile EE devices in Switzerland over the period 1975 to 2015. We found that there has been an increased penetration of the EE devices coinciding with a replacement of unifunctional devices by multifunctional ones (integration) and a decrease in their unit mass (downsizing). Both penetration and unit mass changed most rapidly in the 1990s and have flattened after the year 2000. Penetration outweighed integration and downsizing, so that before stabilizing, it caused a rapid increase in the mass flows of the EE devices. Due to the long lifetime of cars, changes in penetration, integration and downsizing are still evident at the end-of-life flows, but can be expected to slow down considerably between 2015 and 2025. The results demonstrate that monitoring of the trends at the car inflow, in combination with a dynamic MFA, can be used to anticipate changes in end-of-life flows 10–20 years before they occur and to timely inform recycling policies.