We conducted a decomposition analysis of material flows in a dynamic system, focusing on factors in the generation of waste consumer durables. A methodology for the analysis of consumer durables was developed and applied to three common consumer durables: cathode ray tube TVs, refrigerators, and passenger cars. The methodology decomposed changes in the numbers of waste products into three factors: changes in lifespan distribution, past trends in replacement sales, and past trends in sales for additional purchases. The decomposed equation clearly showed that the number of waste products would not necessarily be reduced by lifespan extension alone. This is because the number of waste products generated is affected not only by current lifespan distribution but also by past trends in sales for replacement and in additional purchases. The results show that changes in past replacement sales influence the current generation of waste, even if current replacement sales are declining. To reduce the generation of waste products on a short‐term basis, lifespan must be extended until the waste‐reducing effect of lifespan extension exceeds the waste‐increasing effect of the other two factors. From a long‐term perspective, controlling current replacement and additional purchases can be used to prevent future waste product generation.