Systems of practice and the Circular Economy: transforming mobile phone product service systems

Of late, policy and research attention has increasingly focused on making the Circular Economy a reality. A key part of this agenda is the creation of Sustainable Product Service Systems (SPSS) that meet consumers’ needs whilst lessening negative environmental impacts. Although the SPSS literature has grown recently, key aspects require further examination. In response, this paper discusses empirical research exploring consumers’ reactions to a novel, hypothetical mobile phone SPSS, utilizing qualitative methods that included ‘business origami’. It examines consumers’ knowledge about current mobile phone life cycles, and responses to the proposed SPSS, drawing on a ‘systems of practice’ framework to discuss the potential for significant changes in phone purchase and use. It outlines barriers to alterations in practices, underscoring the centrality that connectivity and data storage now have in many peoples’ daily lives, which have for some become clustered around the capabilities and accessibility of the mobile phone.