Reality check: Are consumers ready for circular EEE?

Date: 03.04.2024
We have done three short LinkedIn polls to learn more about how consumers think about circular electronic and electrical devices. In total, 82 people voted in three poll questions between December 2023 and February 2024. It is not a great result, but a start.

The three questions were about end-of-life practices, circular design, and sustainability, and the readiness to purchase remanufactured or second-hand electronic equipment. Please note that the poll did not allow for multiple answers. And here is what we learned.

End-of-life practices Many people do not really know what to do with their old electrical devices. 45% keep them stored at home and 5% even throw them away. The other half of the poll participants give their electronics to recycling (23%) or sell or donate them (27%). Storing devices at home does not look like an unsustainable practice, but it is! Electronics contain significant amounts of resources, among them rare metals like coltan or lithium. By holding onto old electronics, valuable resources remain unused instead of being recycled.

Sustainable design and circularity We asked about what sustainable or green product features consumers check when they buy an electronic device. The majority looks at product lifespan and repairability of devices (42%). Really good news! This is followed by energy efficiency of the device (31%) and warranty and service places (23%). True circularity comes with old device return programs because this offers much better options for reuse, remanufacturing, or recycling. Unfortunately, only 4% of voters said they look for this feature. Second-hand or remanufactured electronic equipment.

The final question was about our readiness to purchase second-hand or remanufactured products. 44% of participants say yes, they would because it is sustainable. Quite a lot say maybe, of which 12% say maybe but they do not know where to buy, and 23% say maybe if it is cheaper. 18% say never and that they will always buy new. Our working hypothesis was that most people do not know where to buy, but obviously, that is wrong. Good to know!

We are aware that these quick polls were not representative, but it offers a good idea of how consumers think and what is changing in our behavior!

Written by Grit Ackermann, Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia