Increased circularity in the packaging sector requires more recyclable materials, but also better sorting practices from consumers. But what influences certain consumer behaviours when it comes to waste sorting? What types of packaging and instructions promote or hinder circular behaviours? The CIAP’s Club for Sustainable Packaging Solutions addressed these questions hands-on: with a household waste analysis in the city of Solingen.

Most of the current packaging consists of different materials – think of aluminium lids on plastic cups of yogurt as a prime example. If we stick to the yogurt cup, a consumer would need to separate the lid from the cup, remove the cardboard sleeve, and clean the cup for the sorting to be completely effective. Oftentimes, there are no clear sorting instructions and the process is perceived as too complex from a consumer perspective. To achieve better recyclability, consumers need to be able to separate and sort accordingly and easily. A better understanding of consumer decisions and behaviours is the basis for designing interventions that generate more circularity. The household analysis in Solingen looked for cues about what triggers better sorting practices and what doesn’t. For this purpose, both the recyclable and the residual garbage bins of 15 households of different sizes and demographic structures were analysed. Highlights from the findings per product category include:

Dairy product cups
Lid off or lid on? For the recycling of the aluminium lid, this makes a big difference. In our sample, the lids were removed from exactly half of the 228 cups. A clear difference was observed in the size of the cups: larger cups (400ml and above) were separated significantly more often (78%) than smaller ones (37%).

Thermoformed packaging with sealing foil
The lids or foils were removed in about one third of the packaging. However, the hypothesis that hygiene factors could possibly have an influence in the sorting behaviour of fresh meat or fish packaging could not be confirmed.

Plastic bottles of hygiene and cleaning products
Despite that most households do not separate waste in bathrooms and laundry facilities, plastic bottles of hygiene products interestingly recorded the most accurate sorting. The hypothesis is that either these bottles are generally too large to ignore their recycling potential or, another factor, namely that most waste bins in bathrooms are too small for these bottles to fit in. While 95% of the plastic bottles were placed correctly into the recyclable bin, only 2 of the 116 bottles had the lid removed. Here, we found fundamental deficiencies in packaging design, since many lids (e.g. of shampoo bottles) can only be removed with great force. In addition, clear instructions on how to sort a certain packaging were also lacking. The nationwide education campaign of the Dual Systems’ initiative Waste Separation Works (Mülltrennung Wirkt) is trying to address this problem.

In addition to the evaluation of the predefined packaging categories, the club members were able to observe other phenomena that could complicate the recycling of packaging resources. As recyclable materials require a lot of space in the waste container, but most of such packaging is light in terms of weight, different types of packaging get stuck inside each other which may significantly hamper the recycling process and regaining of all recyclable materials.

The aim of the Club for Sustainable Packaging Solutions is to work with stakeholders in integrating consumer insights into the development of sustainable (circular) packaging and generate new solutions. The general findings of the project will be made available to SMEs and transferred to the EU level in the form of policy recommendations through the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform.

The Consumer Insight Action Panel (CIAP) is a non-profit initiative led by the CSCP and funded by Sitra and Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (DBU), in partnership with the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform.

For further questions, please contact Stephan Schaller.

In late summer 2020, the team of went on the road. The agenda: conducting small Corporate Digital Responsibility (CDR) workshops with Chambers of Industry and Commerce (IHK) of North Rhine-Westphalia. The goal is to develop a comprehensive concept that can be used by various Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) as a framework for defining their role and action in the field of CDR.

The project created basic workshop formats by locating CDR action fields within a matrix of development. This basic format was tested and expanded at the respective chambers with the direct participation of SMEs.

The kick-off workshop took place in July at the IHK Bonn. Two SME representatives, Sandor Krönert from Tanzhaus Bonn and Holger Schwan from Projektservice Schwan shared experiences regarding their companies’ reaction to the ongoing pandemic. Mr. Krönert talked about their recently developed app for planning dance courses in ways that meet hygiene requirements while fulfilling the courses’ programme. Drawing on such particular examples, the project team and the SME representatives engaged in discussions about the various fields of action in CDR, such as the zero-waste principle, the application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in support of sustainability goals, and the concept of the sharing economy. The participants also looked into areas with the greatest potential for positive impact at the SME level.

During the second workshop, which took place at the premises of IHK Düsseldorf, Thomas Götzen from the construction company Interboden shared more about their project ‘The Cradle’, in which they are using the Cradle-to-Cradle concept for the construction of an office building in Düsseldorf. Such experiences will be shared and discussed with other SMEs in order to find ways of replicating and upscaling them. is planning to conduct further meetings with all IHK offices in North Rhine-Westphalia and jointly develop a comprehensive workshop concept that can used by SMEs to define their actions in the field of CDR. The next meeting will take place at the IHK Mönchengladbach on 8 October 2020. – Sustainably Competitive is funded by the Ministry of Economic Affairs NRW via the EFRE fund.

For further information, please contact Anna Hilger.

Unlike other materials, cashmere is a fine, natural fibre that decomposes easily. Nonetheless, its production comes with significant social and environmental impacts. Carbon emissions from livestock, overgrazing, deforestation, lack of supply chain transparency, and poor working conditions of goat herders are some of the major issues. Our STeP EcoLab project is supporting the Mongolian wool and cashmere sector to make the difference: achieve a strong sustainability profile and better recognition in the global textile market.

Through an online workshop held in August 2020, the project STeP EcoLab introduced European consumers’ demands and trends for fair fashion, animal welfare and sustainable production to a team of Mongolian experts. The workshop was a first step towards enhancing Mongolia’s access to EU and global markets.

The local experts had been previously selected by the project team to support the implementation of sustainability measures in the Mongolian wool and cashmere sector and multiply the knowledge to the rest of the textile industry. They will do so by helping Mongolian companies to comply with key requirements of the globally recognised and most relevant sustainability standards in preparation for eco-certification in the near future. The two-day interactive workshop focused on sustainability management methods, sustainability as a business case, European eco-certification standards, communication strategies, and best practice sharing. A highlight of the training was the ‘persona session’, during which the participants had a chance to talk to fictitious clients and try to understand their needs and requirements.

As a next step, the team of the Mongolian experts will support the development and implementation of a Voluntary Code of Conduct (VCP) among the Mongolian wool and cashmere companies. Externally, the VCP will act as a signalling instrument towards customers and targeted markets until complete sustainability certification is achieved. In addition, VCP members will reduce the environmental and social impact of wool and cashmere production and increase competitiveness of this sector.

The STeP EcoLab is a four-year project funded by the European Union under the SWITCH Asia II Programme. The project is implemented by the Mongolian branch of ‘Agronomes et Vétérinaires Sans Frontières (AVSF Mongolia)’ in partnership with the CSCP, the Mongolian Wool and Cashmere Association (MWCA), the Environment and Security Center of Mongolia (ESCM), the National Federation of Pasture Users Group (NFPUG) and the Mongolian Bankers’ Association (MBA). The project lasts four years and is funded by the European Union under the SWITCH Asia II Programme.

For further information, please contact Pawel Zylka.

In this explainer video, Federal Minister for Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, Julia Klöckner and CSCP’s Nora Brüggemann explain how the Dialogue Forum for the Reduction of Food Waste in Wholesale and Retail is addressing food waste.

In line with the National Strategy for Reducing Food Waste, the Dialogue Forum focuses on the wholesale and retail sectors as hallmarks in promoting better food appreciation in the society. The main goal of the Dialogue Forum is to contribute to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12.3 – Food Loss and Waste – by facilitating a transparent and open exchange among companies themselves as well as with civil society and politics. Another important segment of the Dialogue Forum is to introduce innovative ideas, upscale best practices, and implement actions towards food waste reduction.

Watch the explainer video for a comprehensive view on the three main objectives of the Dialogue Forum!

The Dialogue Forum for the Reduction of Food Waste in Wholesale and Retail is a project conducted by the CSCP in partnership with the Johann Heinrich von Thünen-Institut. The project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) .

For further information please contact Nora Brüggemann.

BOOM’s unique career orientation programme took place from 2 to 7 August 2020 in Hessen and gave teenagers between 14 and 17 a chance to explore and experience handicraft professions and sustainable lifestyles in preparation for future career choices.

Professional craftspeople joined the holiday career camps to provide teenagers with tips and tricks on how to design and create upcycled products. From turning old surfboards into benches to sit on or rebuilding broken tree houses’ roofs and making them functional again, participants of the first BOOM camp got busy being creative and hands-on.

During the free time, a wide range of low-carbon activities were offered to the participants, including mountain biking, archery or the exploration of the surrounding area for tasty and healthy wild herbs.

Despite the special circumstances related to Corona and the strict hygiene rules, the career orientation camp managed to ignite new ideas about how career choices could lead to a more sustainable and inclusive future and was a full-on success with the participants.

Two further BOOM orientation camps are scheduled to take place in 2020, in Walberberg, Cologne/Bonn:

Registration for both camps is open! If you know a teenager or young adult who is wondering how his or her career might look like in the future, spread the word!

BOOM (Berufsorientierung und Nachhaltigkeit mal Anders) are six-day career orientation camps for teenagers and young adults. Participants of the camps have the opportunity to explore future jobs in fields such as “daily consumption and product design”, “energy and mobility”, “building and housing” and “food and agriculture”. The main goal of the BOOM camps is to mainstream an understanding of sustainability as a key aspect in the career choices of the next generation.

BOOM camps are a joint project of the CSCP and its partners Provadis GmbH and Sportjugend Hessen e.V and it is funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.

For further questions, please contact Carina Diedrich.

Dr. Esther Heidbüchel joined our SBE team as senior consultant with a core focus on the Sustainable Chemistry project.

What are the highlights of your professional journey so far? 

I have always been walking off the beaten tracks, starting with marketing new business units, developing strategies and volunteering concepts, then taking on the challenge to develop sustainability strategies and implement sustainability management systems. Highlights are always those points in time when I manage to win over people to really understand and foster sustainability.

In your view, what are the main ingredients for a sustainable life?

Well, I think it all starts with getting information and then deciding what is important for you. Don’t try to change everything in one go – perfection is an illusion. Better start with small, but impactful steps  such as avoiding fossil-fuel travel as much as possible, switching to green power, buying organic and fair products, avoiding unnecessary packaging or cosmetics containing microplastics.

Now that you’ve joined the CSCP, what are you looking forward to the most?

Working with a great team to contribute towards making this planet a good and friendly place to live for future generations.

Sometimes, it seems a bit blurry that becoming more sustainable can support companies in achieving many other goals, including increasing profits. How can this strategic link be better communicated?

When I started my professional life, sustainability was something related to the guys climbing chimneys and blocking whalers. Now this has changed – in my opinion, mainly due to increasing awareness of the threats imposed to the environment as well as the numerous studies clearly showing that sustainable companies are performing better than “conventional” ones. This link between performance and sustainability is one of the keys. In some cases, extraordinary sustainability features of products or companies can generate a premium on prices, but in most cases, profit will come from efficiency gains and process optimisation – which are also part of a sound and integrated sustainability strategy.

Strengthening resilience has become the keyword of the moment. What makes a company future-proof in your view?

The foundation is to know the risks along the whole value chain, including an early-warning system. Here is where digitalisation comes in: real-time monitoring, Artificial Intelligence (AI), blockchain technology – there is a huge potential to increase transparency and timely information. A rather underestimated aspect related to resilience are skilled workforces that are aware of the impact of their work decisions. This goes well beyond Health & Safety policies. Regarding the future, innovation, using swarm intelligence, cooperation with suppliers and also Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), and monitoring of trends is paramount for developing sustainable businesses.

Now that remote working is becoming a new normal, what are some of the lessons learnt from your many years of working remotely?

All you have to do is to remember that you are talking to human beings and get used to smaller pictures. The media of your choice must not change the way and style you communicate. It is extremely important to always ask yourself if you would say what you are saying if the meeting was an in-person one . Regarding home office: self-discipline, self-discipline, self-discipline, and then quite importantly: self-care!

For further questions, get in contact with Dr. Esther Heidbüchel.

The stock of electrical and electronic equipment has increased to the extent that the number of internet-related electronics produced annually exceeds the number of humans on earth (WEF, 2019). Such rapid increase of the amount of electronics is indicative of growing demand, but also of shorter lifetimes and increasing obsolescence of such products. The European Topic Centre’s on Waste and Materials in a Green Economy (ETC/WMGE) report “Electronics and Obsolescence in a Circular Economy“ offers a state-of-the art analysis as well as examines potential circular business models and policy measures for increasing lifetimes of electronics.

The report shows that, in practice, electronic products have an average lifetime that is at least 2.3 years shorter than the manufacturer’s claim (designed lifetime) or the consumer’s expectation (desired lifetime). Through four different case studies – smartphones, washing machines, vacuum cleaners and televisions – it is shown how increasing the product lifetime is essential for reducing environmental impacts of electronics. In support of that, the report examines potential circular business models and policy measures that lead to longer lifetimes of electronic products.

The ETC report “Electronics and Obsolescence in a Circular Economy“ provides the analytical underpinning for a respective briefing of the European Environment Agency (EEA). It is published in the memory of Sunny-Yang Deng, co-author of the report and late CSCP project manager, whose expertise in obsolescence has greatly contributed to it.

The report is available for download at the CSCP’s library.

For further information, please contact Nora Brüggemann.

Delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda requires immediate change of course and joined forces of multiple actors. The CSCP has recently joined the board of the Global Enabling Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), an important platform for multi-stakeholder engagement towards more sustainability through digital technologies.

In close collaboration with Information and Communication Technology (ICT) companies and other organisations around the world, the Global Enabling Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) is a hub for information, resources and best practices for achieving social and environmental sustainability through technology. CSCP’s Executive Director, Michael Kuhndt, has been named to the board of GeSI to help strengthen collaboration across organisations and industries towards a sustainable, fair and inclusive future.

A hallmark of CSCP’s engagement at GeSI will be the “Digital with a Purpose: Delivering a SMARTer2030” movement, which is oriented towards more informed and purposeful development and deployment of digital technologies. In a “race to the top”, digital companies are not only seeking to improve their own operations and reduce negative social and environmental impacts, but also utilise their digital technologies to enable others to achieve the SDGs and increase their positive social and environmental handprints.

A recent report published as part of the “Digital with a Purpose” movement highlights that “of the 169 SDG targets, 103 are directly influenced by digital technologies, with established examples of deployment that provide insight into their potential to make an impact. Analysis of 20 targets and their indicators across the SDGs shows that the expected deployment of existing digital technologies will on average, help accelerate progress by 22 percent and mitigate downward trends by 23 percent”

The “Digital with a Purpose” movement foresees a performance framework to ensure not only commitment but also action and progress towards achieving the SDGs. In support of this, CSCP’s Senior Advisor, Raymond Slaughter, is leading a workstream on circular economy. The focus of the work stream will be to support companies in achieving more sustainability through the implementation of circular economy principles.

The CSCP as well as the other GeSI partners call on organisations around the globe to make four ‘universal commitments‘:

The CSCP will work closely with the other GeSI board members to strategically lead the „Digital with a Purpose: Delivering a SMARTer2030” movement.

For further information, please contact Raymond Slaughter.


Over 90 participants joined the Valumics webinar on 16 July 2020 which focused on the main food consumption targets at the EU level as well as related challenges and opportunities in achieving them.

The webinar, an interactive session hosted by the CSCP with the participation of Valumics partners and field experts, focused on these questions:

Expert speakers and key notes:

Henk Westhoek, DG SANTE, European Commission, provided an overview on the recently published EU Farm to Fork Strategy, emphasizing the need for integrated approaches that combine different levels of governance and the usage of multiple instruments.

Pierre Marie Aubert, IDDRI, spoke about food consumption impact reduction targets for 2050, highlighting that “there is a clear benefit from a health and environmental perspective” in reducing the animal protein intake and increasing the intake of fruits and vegetables.

Mariana Nicolau, CSCP, shared key insights based on the VALUMICS work about what drives food consumption behaviours in the EU. Nicolau emphasized the usefulness of mapping behaviours with a behavioural model in order to focus on what exactly needs to change, rather than jumping straight into how to change things.

Matthew Gorton, Newcastle University, discussed current  promising interventions that have the potential to drive more sustainable food consumption behaviours.

Antonella Samoggia, University of Bologna, spoke about the key recommendations that the VALUMICS project is currently preparing in support of food consumption impact reduction goals.

The speaker slides are available here.

The webinar was concluded with a lively Q&A between participants and the expert panel. A selection of questions and answers is available here.

The webinar ‘Putting Solutions on the Table: Approaches and Interventions for More Sustainable Food Consumption Behaviours’ was held within the framework of the VALUMICS project.

VALUMICS focuses on food system dynamics and is a multi-stakeholder consortium funded by the EU Horizon 2020 programme.

For further information, please contact Mariana Nicolau.


Gaining accurate information about people’s behaviours and their decision making practices is becoming significantly more important in achieving sustainability goals across various fields. As a result, important questions arise: What motivates specific behaviours but discourages others? How are behaviours constructed and shaped but also changed and transformed? The second episode of our Academy of Change (AoC) podcast series focuses on behaviour models as pre-defined approaches in analysing and changing behaviours. Listen to our guest speaker, Andrew Darnton, as he guides you through efficient ways of choosing and implementing models that support your sustainability projects.

An added value of behaviour models is their capacity to distil academic theory into practical guidance. They can be used to map current behaviours and understand barriers and enablers for positive change. There is a growing body of academic evidence on the topic, but it can be hard to grasp and apply to newcomers in the field. Moreover, there are many competing and complementary models, making choosing even more difficult.

In the behavioural models episode you can listen to an inspiring conversation with Andrew Darnton, an independent researcher specialised in behavioural theory and system change, as he explains how to pick the most appropriate models for specific organisations and needs. In addition, Darnton, who is the author of the ISM (Individual, Social, Material) model, spoke in detail about the role of models in designing impactful interventions for targeted behaviours.

In his own words: “Models are devices for using our heads: they’re thinking tools! The value that they have is in the potential of helping us figure out a problem. Models are always going to be wrong, it’s about how wrong they are. The best model is the most usable, the one that gets one the closest to a workable solution. They help us work out which bits of the data we have are most relevant.”

Other topics covered in the models’ podcast include suggestions on right and wrong ways of applying theory, the most popular models and how to use them, and practical lessons on applying models to specific projects and challenges.

Download our Models podcast now!

The first AoC podcast on the topic of Insights with guest speaker Lizzie Kenyon is available here, if you would like to start at the beginning of our Behaviour Change series.

The podcast series is part of the Academy of Change (AoC) training programme and it offers complementary views on selected behavioural change topics. Through insightful conversations with field experts, the topics are explored from a practical perspective in order to serve listeners from different fields and areas of interest.

The Academy of Change (AoC) is a non-profit initiative of the CSCP, Behaviour Change (BC) and the International Civil Society Centre (ICSC). The AoC is funded by the KR Foundation.

For further question, please contact Mariana Nicolau.