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It's a dogma that a long product lifetime is always an environmental benefit. But this is not always so in the case of electronics. The electronics sector contains active products, i.e. they consume electricity during use. A lower energy consumption in a new product may therefore "pay" for the total "fixed burden" of producing and disposing both the new and old products. The dynamics of this mechanism has been investigated by an LCA screening of four product groups: televisions, PCs, mobile phones and frequency converters. Two product generations into the future were included in terms of the prevailing expectations for technological innovation. The environmental effects of new technology on these four product groups were assessed to determine the best environmental choice between the following two scenarios: buy a new product and dispose of the old one, or, prolong the life of the product through repair. This paper discusses methods and results, including the best purchase strategy or the best repair strategy.
Date of Conference: 19-22 May 2003