University of Oulu

Ylä-Mella, J.; Keiski, R.L.; Pongrácz, E. End-of-Use vs. End-of-Life: When Do Consumer Electronics Become Waste? Resources 2022, 11, 18.

End-of-use vs. end-of-life : when do consumer electronics become waste?

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Author: Ylä-Mella, Jenni1; Keiski, Riitta L.2; Pongrácz, Eva1
Organizations: 1Water, Energy and Environmental Engineering, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 4300, FI-90014 Oulu, Finland
2Environmental and Chemical Engineering, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 4300, FI-90014 Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.7 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-04-19


This study focuses on the lifespan of consumer electronics. The article reviews end-of-life terminology in scientific literature and suggests distinguishing end-of-use and end-of-life stages. The question, when electronics become waste, is approached using the concept of a system called PSSP language, which classifies artefacts based on their attributes of purpose, structure, state and performance. It is highlighted that waste as a concept is dynamic; the same thing can be waste or non-waste at different times and places and for different people. Further, the article reviews the impact of storage behavior on the realization of the waste hierarchy, using mobile phones as a case study. Evidence suggests that over half of customers use their mobile phones for only two years, and there is little incentive to keep them in use longer. Surveys also indicate that over half of the customers do not return their phones for reuse or recycling but keep them at home. The article suggests that the three key factors, promoting the storing of an old phone, are the shortness of usage time, perceived residual value of replaced equipment and concerns of personal information security. It is also indicated that memories and the personal attachment to the device contribute to consumers’ storage decision. It is concluded that, to prolong the use of mobile phones, there is a demand for changing consumers attitudes towards the return of electronics for reuse and repair to be more positive.

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Series: Resources
ISSN: 2079-9276
ISSN-E: 2079-9276
ISSN-L: 2079-9276
Volume: 11
Issue: 2
Article number: 18
DOI: 10.3390/resources11020018
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 218 Environmental engineering
Funding: This research was funded by the Emil Aaltonen Foundation and the 6G Enabled Sustainable Society project (The University of Oulu and Academy of Finland Profi6 nro. 336449).
Copyright information: © 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (