The global use of mobile phones has increased rapidly over the last years up to nearly 6 billion mobile phone contracts in 2011. Especially young people show a strong demand for mobiles; in Germany, nine out of ten teenagers own a mobile phone. The increasing demand for mobile phones leads to a continuously growing resource and energy consumption, intensifying the challenge of supplying (already scarce) metals to the industry. This problem is even more tightened by the very low recycling rates of mobile phones, which in turn are of significant economic and environmental importance.
In Germany, approximately 83 million mobile phones are stored in private households without being used any more. Taking into account the relatively low participation of mobile phone users in recycling programmes, research in this area can have a high political, economic and social importance.
Therefore, this research projects aims at increasing the understanding of consumer behaviour in the context of sustainability focussing on individual recycling behaviour. Furthermore, economic potentials are investigated that could result from a regulated return of mobile phones.
Based on this, recommendations to market participants will be developed. Additionally, a comprehensive communication campaign for mobile phone recycling will be prepared and supervised, extending the scope of previous approaches. The campaign aims at informing individuals about the resource intensity of mobile phones and preventing them from disposing of their old phones in household waste. In the long run, the campaign tries to encourage consumers to act more sustainably when using not only their mobile phones but also other electronic devices in their daily life. The target groups of the campaign are children and (young) adolescents.
Core research questions are:
Planned outcomes of the project are: