From Take-Back Schemes to Repairability Indices: Testing Circular Economy Solutions for Electronics

What do consumers do with their electronic gadgets once they no longer use them? Store them in a drawer? How can we empower and enable consumers to bring their old gadgets back to the cycle? As part of the Consumer Insight Action Panel (CIAP), we have been working with three organisations that are on a journey to test circular electronics interventions in practice.

The organisations, who are members of the CIAP Electronics Club, have been working with the CSCP to gather insights on particular consumer behaviours related to their contexts and from that develop interventions and test them in the coming months.

How can we enable consumers to give back their devices, thereby increasing the device collection rate?

In the first experiment, together with refurbished electronics retailer Refurbed, we explored this question through a set of interventions related to their new device sell-back online platform. Our survey conducted with German consumers revealed that interesting areas to test and explore included the framing of the opportunity, either for its environmental benefits or for the financial benefit to the seller. Another key outcome was the need to simplify and optimise the process of preparing the gadget for return and completing the take-back process. By conducting A-B testing (a method of comparing two versions) on the first visuals that consumers see on the company’s website, we will assess which framing leads to greater smartphone returns. A new infographic will be used to assess how making it easy and fun can impact how many consumers take up the offer.

The second experiment, with producer responsibility association WEEE Forum’s member RENAS, looks at the same question, but from the approach of testing improvements to an easy and secure take-back of devices in the Norwegian market.

How can we enable consumers to prioritise repairable products, thereby supporting the rights to repair?

The third pilot host, the French organisation HOP, is focusing on a new repairability index. This index, displaying a score for how repairable a product is, is now mandatory for a range of electronic products across France. In this CIAP pilot with HOP, we are looking at the extent to which the index is influencing consumer product purchase choices and how its impact could be increased.

Through these experiments, CIAP is combining consumer insights with practical tests to explore the steps that can be taken to increase the circularity of electronics across the EU. Are you curious to hear more and exchange with us on how to pilot and upscale efficient interventions for more circularity in the electronics sector? Join us at the E-Waste World Conference in Frankfurt, on 30 November 2021!

The Consumer Insight Action Panel (CIAP) is a European multi-stakeholder initiative designed to support the transition to the circular economy by generating, applying and testing consumer behavioural insights in circular strategies on three strands of products: textiles, plastics and electronics. CIAP is a collaboration of the CSCP with Sitra and Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (DBU).

For further questions, please contact Imke Schmidt.

Photo by Andrew M on Unsplash