Material flow analysis (MFA) as a strategic tool in E-waste management: Applications, trends and future directions

Material flow analysis (MFA) is one of the most widely accepted and utilized tools in the industrial-ecology discipline, that measures the input-output materials and examines the pathways and flux of each material flow within the whole system. The application of MFA in e-waste management has recently increased and quite a few academic articles have been published on this issue providing decision support at the policy level. However, there is a need to understand the dynamics of MFA methodology, the data requirements (as well as the data sources used in the previous studies) and the lessons learnt from the studies, so that countries where such an E-waste-MFA study has not yet been performed can apply the international experience of such an emerging research technique. This comprehensive review article presents the recent applications, trends, characteristics, research gaps and challenges of the MFA method that may help e-waste management with an overview of the need for a such tool to be applied. A country-wise analysis is presented and MFA models complemented by various associated methods are summarized with national-level, regional-level, product-level, and element-level assessment. The highlighted future research perspectives discussed in this study will help to analyze e-waste management systems more critically, including the hidden and known flows of waste products and associated materials, economic assessment of material recovery and the role of responsible authorities. This invaluable contribution will help future researchers, particularly from the data collection techniques and previously applied MFA models complemented by various associated methods.