Hibernation of mobile phones in the Netherlands: The role of brands, perceived value, and incentive structures

Dirk Inghels*, Marc D. Bahlmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Mobile phones contain valuable and rare earth minerals. At the end of their useful life, these phones are little reused or recycled since most of them are stored at home, a phenomenon also known as hibernation. Accurate hibernation rates per country or region do not exist but are assumed to be low, making end-of-life mobile phones an interesting waste stream to improve on waste recovery. This paper presents the results of a survey on the end-of-life mobile phone behavior in the Netherlands taken place in June 2019 amongst 296 participants. In so doing, it considers earlier addressed empirical concerns regarding the drivers of hibernation behavior, recycling and replacement. The hibernation rate turned out to be 61%. In line with earlier studies on mobile phone hibernation,
technical and functional obsolescence are confirmed to be the main drivers of mobile phone replacement. Moreover, study results confirmed that the majority of mobile phones are replaced within three years and that using the old phone as a spare is the major reason for hibernation. This article advances several novel insights. First, the willingness to recycle appears to be inversely proportional to the perceived value of the discarded phone and proportional to the age of the mobile phone owner. Secondly, the perceived duration of ownership, a characteristic also reported in many previous studies, is incorrectly remembered by many respondents when gauging their responses against the actual mobile phone release date. Thirdly, financial incentives are shown to be the
best driver to increase the intention to recycle.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105178
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalResources, Conservation and Recycling
Early online date30 Sep 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • Recycling
  • Mobile phones
  • The Netherlands
  • Hibernation behavior
  • Survey


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