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

Dimitris Potoglou, Lorraine Whitmarsh, Colin Whittle, Ioannis Tsouros, Paul Haggar, Tobias Persson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (SciVal)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118957
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Early online date23 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2020


  • Car choice
  • Discrete choice experiment
  • Ethical production
  • Material source
  • Mobile choice
  • Sustainable sourced material

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'To what extent do people value sustainable-resourced materials? A choice experiment with cars and mobile phones across six countries'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this