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Does the Circular Economy Understand What Makes Consumers Tick? Join the CSCP’s Consumer Insight Action Panel!

Together with European partners, the CSCP is setting up the Consumer Insight Action Panel for the circular economy. Its mandate is to analyse circular economy challenges within the sectors of textiles, plastics and electronics from a consumer behaviour perspective. The research will be combined with pilot testing and replication activities to create a real impact when informing policy and business innovations. Within the electronics sector, for example, how might we address premature obsolescence of products? How can we enable and motivate consumers to repair or reuse electronic products?

EU decision makers have already clearly recognised the importance of understanding and integrating consumer knowledge and behavioural insights into the context of the circular economy transition. “The choices made by millions of consumers can support or hamper the circular economy. These choices are shaped by the information to which consumers have access, the range and prices of existing products, and the regulatory framework.” (COM(2015) 614 final, EU Action Plan for the Circular Economy).

Despite the importance of consumer insights, there is little research on behaviour change specifically with regard to the circular economy. Misconceptions and assumptions about consumers still prevail – that people are driven by information only or that financial incentives are the core instrument to motivate change in behavior, for example. These assumptions often lack sound evidence about what really motivates consumer behaviour.

To address this gap, the CSCP organised and facilitated the stakeholder meeting “Consumer Insights into the Circular Economy”, in October 2018, with the support of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) as part of the work plan of the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform (ECESP) Coordination Group. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss how consumer needs, motivations and behavioural insights could be better integrated into the circular economy transition, what we already know in terms of promising practices and benefits in this realm, and what actions we should take to institutionalise the topic and make it relevant to the circular economy agenda. Click here to download the meeting report.

High level stakeholders from various stakeholder groups, including policy makers, business, NGOs and academia, were present and their main suggestion for the way forward was the creation of a Consumer Insight Action Panel. It would consist of a multi-stakeholder group aimed at translating existing and novel consumer behaviour knowledge into impact-oriented activities, tools and recommendations to support policy makers, business and civil society in enabling consumer-relevant circular economy strategies. The CSCP is currently setting up such a Consumer Insight Action Panel for the circular economy.

A soft launch of the Panel took place in Brussels on 7 March 2019, with the workshop Consumers in the Circular Economy as part of the 2019 Circular Economy Stakeholder Conference, hosted by the European Commission and the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC). The workshop was delivered in partnership with the Finish Innovation Fund – Sitra and the European Environment Agency (EEA), and attracted the attention of various stakeholders interested in being part of the Consumer Insight Action Panel. If you are interested in learning more about it and getting involved, drop us a message: consumerinsights@scp-centre.org

For further information, please contact Mariana Nicolau.