Consumer WEEE Recycling Awareness in Portugal

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Abstract

Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) has become the fastest-growing waste stream, and consumer WEEE recycling is detrimental to the success of circular economy principles. However, consumer awareness of and willingness to cooperate in WEEE recycling is a core pillar of success as end users determine the ultimate fate of waste. This study presents the results of a survey distributed via social media in Portugal (n = 509) to determine consumer knowledge of and compliance or noncompliance with circular economy goals for WEEE as well as actionable insights for policy decision-makers and managers. Results show that the overall knowledge of WEEE posing health and environmental hazards is very high and that higher storage rates at home exist in younger demographics, students, and higher-income brackets. Our research highlights that not only are proximity to a recycling center and awareness of the location influencing factors required for recycling but also that recycling activities are mostly based on intrinsic motivation to protect the environment, with financial incentives only attracting a relatively small share of the study participants. While most studies on WEEE focus on developing countries, this study offers a distinct perspective by covering a mature EU economy.