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Xuan Zhu, Ruth Lane, and T. T Werner (2017)

Modelling in-use stocks and spatial distributions of household electronic devices and their contained metals based on household survey data

Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 120:27-37.

Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) contains a significant amount of critical and precious metals. Recovery of these metal resources is important for both environmental and economic reasons. However, the potential for metal recovery from the distributed resource of used electronic devices in households has not been well understood. This paper explores such potential through modelling in-use stocks and spatial distributions of metal resources in household electronic devices based on household survey data, using Australia as a case study. We focused on ten categories of electronic devices: smart mobile phones, plain mobile phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, flat screen TVs, CRT TVs, monitors, hand held music players and game devices. Regression models were built using demographic variables as predictors to estimate the amount of electronic devices currently in use in households, and the bottom-up approach was employed to estimate the stocks of forty three metals contained in the devices. A set of maps were produced to show the estimated distribution of the resource of in-use household electronic devices and specific metals of interest contained in these devices. We find that some metals such as Platinum-group elements have more stocks in Australian household devices than the potential stocks in Australian mineral deposits. There is some intrinsic resource value contained in Australian household electronic goods, and interest in recovery of these particular metals might come sooner than for others.

Bottom-up approach, Critical metals, Household electronic devices, In-use stock, Material stock analysis, Spatial analysis

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