Circular Economy, News, Victoria

Monash study finds frugality and attachment prevents people from parting with unused electronics

Monash University researchers have found that people tend to keep unwanted electronic devices rather than disposing of them, which is reducing the reuse of products.

The research comes at a time where people are encouraged to pass on unwanted goods to create a circular economy.

An e-waste ban came into effect on July 1 in Victoria, meaning individuals and businesses must take unwanted electronics to an approved collection point to be recycled properly, repair the items, or pass them on to someone else to use.

While passing on items that are still fit for use is encouraged as one step to avoid e-waste heading to landfill, Monash researchers indicated that people’s frugality and deep attachment to their electronic devices make them unwilling to part with the items.

In July, Monash University shared the findings of the report, Consumer Motivation for Product Disposal and its Role, which outlined that consumers could be encouraged to dispose of electrical items earlier and more regularly by being offered the opportunity to trade in or donate items.

Co-collection of products with recyclers or charities can also significantly improve consumer acceptance of the disposal process.

Monash University associate professor and the study lead, Dayna Simpson, said with electrical and electronic equipment waste expected to reach 12 million tonnes by 2020, attending to the psychology behind product disposal should be a priority for government and manufacturer campaigns looking to recover electronic goods that are in danger of becoming e-waste.

Monash University professor, Kathleen Riach, said the study identified that consumers would accept a discount of 29.6 per cent for their near-new (six-month-old) products if they were rarely being used.

“This represents a potentially lucrative product-for-product acquisition effort to target.

“Small product drop-offs at public events, in-store drop-offs, or initiatives advertising waste reduction or price promotions could substantially improve the effectiveness of product acquisition.”

Riach said the findings provide methods for lowering the costs of product collection for manufacturers, both for newer products with resale value, and other older products that have value only for recycling.

The research involved 650 consumers across three studies.