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Driving forces behind the emergence of electronic waste

Published Nov 05, 2013

Researchers from CESC have been involved in the new report on the Driving forces behind the emergence of electronic waste, - a product and consumer perspective.

Electronics have gone from being an exclusive product to being part of our
everyday lives. Most Swedes can afford to buy technology which presents
them with new opportunities and functions. In many cases, new technology
has become part of our lives in a way which means that it also becomes essential
to have access to it. For example, people use new technology to pay bills,
listen to music, book travel, pay for tickets, check opening times, see what the
time is, etc. The decision to buy new technology is governed by the fact that it
is cheap as well as sometimes essential, and often presents opportunities to do
new things, or to do things in new ways.
The technical functions of many products are now taken for granted as the
products have become so commonplace. What is often noticed more than the
technical functions is the appearance of the product, the brand’s reputation,
the advertising for the product and the way in which the product is associated
with fashion, etc. For a product that is fashion-oriented, the “expiration
date” is passed when the fashion changes, regardless of how much of the technical
functional lifetime is left. Technical system changes also contribute to a
need to replace electronics on a large scale.
Overall, we believe that the principal driving forces behind the production
of electronics are the low prices, the collectively created necessity of
the technology and interest in the new social and technological opportunities
that arise from owning products. We also venture to claim that, given
the advanced materials they contain, the products will generally not cost the
right price in relation to the materials involved in their manufacture and the
environmental impact they cause. A short-lived product also places a greater
burden on recycling and end-of-life systems than a long-lived product.

Read the report here  (in swedish), Extern link to Swedish Environmental Protection Agency