Consumer behavior with respect to the consumption and recycling of smartphones and tablets: An exploratory study in Portugal

Graça Martinho, Diogo Magalhães, Ana Pires

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)


A better understanding of how smartphones and tablets are managed at the end of their life cycle is needed to achieve higher recycling and reuse rates. The goals of this study were to obtain the current consumption (acquisition and use) and recycling behavior of consumers with respect to smartphones and tablets from an exploratory online survey implemented in Portugal, and to identify the sociodemographic factors that influence the consumption and recycling behaviors related to these types of device. The survey reveals that smartphones and tablets had a mean life of use of three years. Smartphones were bought mainly in stores, and tablets were bought in stores or were received as gifts from friends or family. Concerning device use, respondents reported an average of 3.34 smartphones per person, including those in use, used, or broken, with the majority in use. An average of 1.06 tablets were in use, used, or broken per person, also with the majority in use. A Chi-square analysis showed a statistically significant relationship between all the tested sociodemographic variables, and gender, family size, and occupation were the variables most closely related to consumption and recycling behaviors. Of note, apart from their opinions on the importance of recycling, consumers’ attitudes were dedicated mostly to reuse actions, such as keeping the devices in the home or giving them to a relative or friend to use. To increase collection and recycling rates, environmental awareness campaigns are needed to increase consumers’ knowledge of existing collection and recycling programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-158
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2017


  • Consumption
  • Pro-environmental behavior
  • Recycling
  • Smartphone
  • Tablet
  • Use


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