• International Journal of Technology (IJTech)
  • Vol 11, No 3 (2020)

What Drives Individuals to Dispose of Waste Mobile Phones? A Case Study in Indonesia

What Drives Individuals to Dispose of Waste Mobile Phones? A Case Study in Indonesia

Title: What Drives Individuals to Dispose of Waste Mobile Phones? A Case Study in Indonesia
Romadhani Ardi, Billy Muhamad Iqbal, Sekarsyifa Sesarea, Komarudin Komarudin

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Cite this article as:
Ardi, R., Iqbal, B.M., Sesarea, S., Komarudin, K., 2020. What Drives Individuals to Dispose of Waste Mobile Phones? A Case Study in Indonesia. International Journal of Technology. Volume 11(3), pp. 631-641

Romadhani Ardi Department of Industrial Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Universitas Indonesia, Kampus UI Depok, Depok 16424, Indonesia
Billy Muhamad Iqbal Department of Industrial Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Universitas Indonesia, Kampus UI Depok, Depok 16424, Indonesia
Sekarsyifa Sesarea Department of Industrial Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Universitas Indonesia, Kampus UI Depok, Depok 16424, Indonesia
Komarudin Komarudin Department of Industrial Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Universitas Indonesia, Kampus UI Depok, Depok 16424, Indonesia
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What Drives Individuals to Dispose of Waste Mobile Phones? A Case Study in Indonesia

While end-of-life mobile phones make up a growing fraction of the total volume of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) generated worldwide, their collection rate remains low. In order to address this problem, it is necessary to understand individual consumers’ disposal behaviors, especially in the context of developing countries. Accordingly, the aim of this study is to assess the determinants of disposal behaviors regarding waste mobile phones in a country lacking well-established systems. This study conceptualizes a model based on the theory of planned behavior and proposes five types of disposal behaviors: keeping, reselling, donating, recycling, and discarding. Models were tested using a survey administered to residents of Jakarta, Indonesia. Through use of structural equation modeling, this study shows that improving environmental awareness can stimulate subsequent responsible disposal behaviors. It also reveals that throwing waste mobile phones into mixed bins is common practice in Indonesia.

Confirmatory factor analysis; Disposal behavior; Structural equation modeling; Theory of planned behavior; Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE); Waste mobile phones


In recent years, global society has witnessed a rapid growth in the electronics industry with the advance of technology. Therefore, it is only natural that the amount of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) being generated is also increasing at an alarming level (Ardi and Leisten, 2016). To prevent WEEE from contaminating the environment, societies needs to handle the problem of WEEE with specific management systems. It is estimated, however, that only 20% of the total WEEE volume worldwide is recycled properly (Baldé et al., 2017). The fate of unrecycled WEEE remains unknown; however, as these numbers indicate, WEEE is becoming a critical problem in many countries because most of the unrecycled waste could contaminate soil, water and air (Ardi, 2016). This is especially true in developing countries such as Indonesia, which tend to be characterized by a lack of infrastructure and a low rate of recycling (Magista et al., 2018; Prabowo et al., 2019).

One type of WEEE that merits special attention is waste mobile phones. Sales of mobile phones are increasing at a rate of over 40% per year (Xu et al., 2016). In Indonesia, the penetration levels of primary and internet-capable mobile phones have reached 98% and 78%  of households, respectively (Puspitasari and Ishii, 2016).  It is not out of the question that Indonesia will have generated over 40 million end-of-life mobile phone units by 2028 (Santoso et al., 2019).

Every mobile phone contains hazardous elements, including lead, mercury, arsenic, polychlorinated biphenyls, and fluorinated cooling fluids, as well as potentially recoverable precious materials, such as gold, silver, copper, and palladium (Nnorom et al., 2009; Sarath et al., 2015). However, among all types of WEEE, waste mobile phones are the most difficult to collect in the formal recycling sector because, for a variety of reasons, many consumers keep their obsolete mobile phones in their households (Polák and Drápalová, 2012; Wilson et al., 2017).

   Currently, the Indonesian government incorporates WEEE into its general regulations on hazardous waste, which are challenging to enforce owing to a lack of well-developed systems (Yunita et al., 2019). If the current situation continues without intervention, informal recycling businesses might begin to flourish, and it then could threaten the official systems. One crucial initiative necessary for motivating solutions is understanding residents’ disposal behaviors. This is a key factor for the development of an improved waste management system (Chi et al., 2014). Many scholarly works rely on the theory of planned behavior (TPB) to predict disposal behaviors (Ari and Yilmaz, 2016). The TPB model includes an analysis of the underlying factors that shape an individual’s intentions and their subsequent behaviors, including attitude (AT), subjective norms (SN), and perceived behavioral control (PBC).

        Several studies have used and expanded upon the basic TPB relationships to analyze disposal behaviors. Borthakur and Govind (2018) analyzed Bangalorean residents’ public understanding of WEEE disposal using the conventional TPB model and, interestingly, argue that PBC could not be a driver of disposal intentions because of an absence of information regarding recycling programs available to consumers. In contrast, Ari and Yilmaz (2016), who used Turkish housewives as their respondents, reveal that in this case PBC (together with SN) actually was a determinant of recycling behavior. Wang et al. (2016), in their Chinese case study, extend the TPB model’s factors by including environmental awareness and by breaking down PBC into convenience of recycling, cost of recycling, and perception of informal recycling. Though the new PBC variables were significant in their case study, these details are not yet relevant in Indonesia because of the absence of regulation, lack of infrastructure, and a relatively less dominant informal sector when compared with China (Chi et al., 2014; Yunita et al., 2019).

   Seacat and Nortrup (2010) incorporated motivation as a predictor of recycling behaviors. The present study here also employs motivation as a proposed determinant because obligation-based intrinsic motivation is particularly applicable for environmental behavior considerations, and because the world recognizes Indonesian citizens as some of the most frequent participants in volunteering causes (Devina, 2018; Van der Werff et al., 2013). Aminrad et al. (2013) and de la Vega (2004) show that environmental awareness influences environmental knowledge and attitude. Aminrad et al. (2013) and Goudeau (2014) argue that environmental knowledge has a positive impact on attitude and motivation. Hence, it is crucial to consider environmental awareness and environmental knowledge in surveying Indonesians in an urban setting because the educated group there has relatively better knowledge and higher awareness toward environmental problems than its general public living (Sudarmadi et al., 2001).

            Using an extended model of TPB, this study aims to identify the factors that influence disposal behaviors regarding end-of-life mobile phones and the relationships among these factors. It collects a set of data from a survey administered to the residents of Jakarta and then subjects the data to structural equation modeling (SEM) analysis to reveal causal relationships. The remainder of this paper is organized as follows: Section 2 consists of a literature review regarding the status of waste mobile phone management, WEEE disposal behaviors in general, studies on TPB and SEM. Section 3 explains the methodology used in this study to conceptualize the model and survey procedures. Section 4 discusses the results of confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) and path analysis in SEM. Finally, the last section outlines the crucial findings of this study and offers insights for future studies.


The model in this study was developed based on the TPB model and tested based on a survey conducted in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia. This survey revealed several noteworthy findings. In all the models, environmental awareness had a significant effect on environmental knowledge. Environmental knowledge itself significantly influences attitude. Motivation has a substantial influence on intention, while intention has a significant impact on all types of disposal behaviors. Therefore, environmental knowledge significantly affects individuals’ motivations for keeping, reselling, donating, or recycling waste mobile phones. Additional significant factors include: subjective norm, which has an influence on individuals’ intention of recycling or discarding mobile phones; perceived behavioral control which has a significant influence on the behaviors of keeping, recycling, or discarding waste mobile phones; and attitude, which has a significant impact on the intentions of recycling or discarding waste mobile phones.

There are several limitations in this study that offer directions for future improvement. This study focused solely on the residents of the city of Jakarta, excluding other areas in the Greater Jakarta area (i.e., Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, and Bekasi). These cities are effectively linked into one urban area through the daily movement of thousands of workers. Moreover, most of the respondents in this study were in the age range of 17–30 years, commonly classified as Generation Y (i.e., Millennials) and Generation Z. It would be interesting if a future study could perform a multigenerational analysis, completing the data with the Baby Boomer generation.


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