The CSCP Will Lead the European Circular Academy

How can we bridge the attitude-action gap among consumers toward more sustainable, circular behaviours in Europe? Our academy will take you there!

In a Eurobarometer survey, 94% of respondents considered protecting the environment as important to them personally and many associated it with the need of engaging with circular behaviours, such as sorting their waste for recycling (Eurobarometer, 2017). Does this mean that we are on track to mainstream circular and more sustainable behaviours in Europe? Not quite. It is increasingly understood that such positive attitudes do not necessarily equate to action. In fact, food, mobility, and housing are the most impacting areas of consumption, as well as the ones characterised by less durable products and higher use intensity (JRC, 2019). There is a large gap between favourable attitudes and actual consumption of better performing, circular products and services.

On the other hand, there is still limited research and action on behaviour change and consumer engagement with specific regard to the circular economy. With the new EU Green Deal, however, this is radically changing and consumers are increasingly under the spotlight. The EU Circular Economy Action Plan is clearly focused on “empowering consumers and providing them with cost-saving opportunities” as a key building block towards the circular economy (EC, 2020). As put in the European Environment Agency 2019 circular economy report, “consumer behaviour is one of the key levers for enabling the transition to a circular economy” (EEA, 2019).

In this context, the central question is: how can we bridge the attitude-action gap towards more sustainable, circular behaviours? That’s a complex question, as behaviours are shaped by a combination of drivers that influence people’s capabilities, motivation and opportunity (Michie et al., 2014) to engage with the circular economy. However, there is a growing evidence base informed by behavioural science showing the way forward in terms of approaches that might work best and aspects that have limited impact and need improvement.

Based on this know-how, building the capacity of stakeholders in learning about and integrating consumer behavioural insights into their circular economy strategies. Outreach is therefore needed, in order to generate greater impact with their initiatives and, ultimately, to drive more circular behaviours. Throughout the entire chain, skill development and capacity building play a key role in equipping stakeholders in making circular behaviours possible – including repairing, sharing, leasing, reusing, recycling and maintaining for longer.

Realising this opportunity, a leadership group at the heart of the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform has taken up the mandate to make such skill building possible. The group is called Retailers, Consumers & Skills, led by the CSCP and composed of a high-level stakeholder group including organisations such as EuroCommerce, RREUSE and the European Environment Agency. The Retailers, Consumers & Skills will be responsible for planning and running the Circular Academy.

The training modules to be prepared by the group are aimed at enabling stakeholders to design and plan for circular behaviour change. The group will start by focusing on capacity building for behavioural solutions in the electronics sector, targeting retailers and city authorities as the initial training audience.

A first EU circular talk will be organised by the group and take place in May in order to share further insights about the initiative and its next steps.

Found it interesting? Are you keen on learning more about the initiative and getting engaged to make it happen? Let us know!

For further questions and how to engage, please contact Mariana Nicolau.

Photo by PR MEDIA on Unsplash