Materials flow analysis of e-waste: Domestic flows and exports of used computers from the United States
The proposed methodology is implemented in a case study of desktop (excluding monitors) and laptop computers in the United States (US) in 2010. Results indicate that 40 million used and scrap computers entered the end-of-life management sector, from which 30% were reused domestically, 6–29% were exported, 17–21% were landfilled in domestic sites and 20–47% were collected for domestic recycling in 2010. The range in results reflects uncertainty arising from inferring end-of-life fate from individual and institutional users. Given sufficient resources to conduct a survey, the proposed materials flow analysis method can be widely applied to other devices and nations.
In 2010, 40 million used and scrap computers, entered the end of life management sector in the United States. The share of used computers in the 2010 US consumer purchases was 16%. An average of seven million used and scrap computers were exported from the United States in 2010. Seven to nine million used computers entered American landfills.