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To what extent do people value sustainable-resourced materials? A choice experiment with cars and mobile phones across six countries

Potoglou, Dimitris ORCID:, Whitmarsh, Lorraine ORCID:, Whittle, Colin ORCID:, Tsouros, Ioannis, Haggar, Paul and Persson, Tobias 2020. To what extent do people value sustainable-resourced materials? A choice experiment with cars and mobile phones across six countries. Journal of Cleaner Production 246 , 118957. 10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.118957

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The environmental impacts of material production, processing and consumption are profound and increasing. The aim of this study was to examine the extent at which consumers of diverse products – specifically, cars and mobile phones – valued the sustainability of materials resourced to make them. Using two choice experiments in Germany, India, Japan, Sweden, the UK and the US (total N = 6,033), we found that economic and functional attributes dominated product choice. Respondents placed relatively little or no value on ethically- or sustainably- sourced materials whereas non-conventional (organic) materials were important only in some countries. The overall low average scores of self-reported knowledge (4.8 for cars and 4.7 for mobile phones; score range 1–10) and salience about the sustainability of vehicles and phones (5.7 for cars and 4.9 for mobile phones) were partially consistent with this relatively limited influence of the sustainable materials on product preferences. Findings showed considerable cross-national differences in consumer knowledge, preferences and willingness to pay. For example, respondents from all countries except the US placed a significantly positive value on cars made of ethically-sourced-organic materials with marginal willingness to pay values ranging from a minimum of €1,951 in Germany up to a maximum of €4,524 in the UK. In the case of mobile phones, respondents placed both positive and negative values against alternative materials relative to conventional materials, which was the reference case. Also, there was disparity between self-reported sustainability knowledge/concerns and experimental product choices. Policymakers should consider further economic and/or education measures to facilitate consumer demand for products made of sustainable-materials.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Additional Information: Released with a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives License (CC BY-NC-ND)
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0959-6526
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 22 October 2019
Date of Acceptance: 18 October 2019
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2023 05:09

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