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Unlocking the Value of Stockpiled Mobile Handsets: a Delphi Evaluation of Factors Influencing End of Use

Pierron, Xavier; Williams, Ian D.; Shaw, Peter J.


Ian D. Williams

Peter J. Shaw


Meeting consumers’ demands for electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) products in the face of diminishing natural resources necessitate a shift from take-make-dispose to circular economy approaches. Mobile handsets are ubiquitous but only a fraction are returned into the economy at the end; many are locked in consumers' households. These small EEE hold residual value as well as critical resources, such as Rare Earth Elements. Incentives for destockpiling exist but are insufficient to alter long-term end-of-use behaviour. Household recycling behaviour tends to be used as a template for EEE end-of-use. But established explanatory factors for household recycling might not be fully relevant for small electronic devices: their size permits stockpiling, whilst their continued utility can encourage retention as back-up or “safety” devices. This study aimed to elucidate the relevance of factors specific to the nature of small EEE, notably their physical characteristics and working order. A panel of academics and professionals from the global waste and resource management sector was consulted using Delphi methods. The results show that factors commonly applied to foster recycling, such as altruism or pro-environmental behaviour, do not necessarily apply to small EEE. On the other hand, the device’s features and working order are critical factors in the end-of-use decision-making process. This study concludes that practical and situational factors should be used to favourably alter decisions for small EEE, including devices’ characteristics. In effect, updated situational factors could unlock a global “destockpile lifestyle” to realise full value from the reuse and recycling of small EEE.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 4, 2022
Online Publication Date Mar 16, 2022
Publication Date 2022-03
Deposit Date Apr 28, 2022
Publicly Available Date Apr 28, 2022
Journal Detritus
Publisher CISA
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Issue 18
Pages 12-23
Keywords Mobile and smart phones, Behavioural economics, Delphi, End-of-use, Utility
Public URL


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