Surveys uncovering ways to engage consumers in the circular economy 

Consumers play a pivotal role in transitioning to a circular economy. However, according to a Study published by the European Commission consumer participation on the Circular Economy has received little attention until now. Thus to move towards a Circular Economy, the consumption/ demand side needs to be well understood and studied.  

 

That is why in the CIRC4Life project, consumers are part of the co-creation process of the new business models. Several surveys have been conducted and others still have to be organised . 

  

For instance, between July and October 2019, Make Mothers Matter conducted three consumer surveys covering the following topics: 

 

  • Reuse and Recycling attitudes 

  • The eco-points system (rewarding scheme for consumers adopting sustainable behaviours) 

  • Sustainable lighting products 

  

The aim was to : 

  • Uncover ways of engaging consumers in the circular economy 

  • Feed the development of business models and demonstrations​ 

  • Provide policy-relevant insights in the transition from a linear to a circular economy​ 

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Profile of respondents 

  

Concerning the profile of the respondents, for all three surveys, it must be noted that a very large portion of our respondents (more than 75%) have levels of education equal to or above university education. 

  

793 respondents participated in the Reuse and Recycling survey with a higher proportion living in Spain (24%), Belgium (19%), Sweden (14%), the UK (14%). 

  

184 respondents participated in the eco-points survey with a higher proportion from Sweden (28%), Germany (22%), Belgium (17%) and Spain (15%). 

  

178 respondents participated in the sustainable lighting product survey with a higher proportion of them residing in Belgium (30%), Poland (16%) and Spain (14%). 

  

The analysis of the results was divided between four core domains influencing consumers’ behaviours: incentives, drivers, barriers and purchasing factors. 

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Incentives 

  

Regarding incentives, 53% of respondents declared that they do not need to receive an incentive in order to collect bio-waste separately and declared they would collect it anyway. This was followed by a reduction of local garbage fees (15%). 

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Surprisingly, financial incentives were never the main driver to motivate consumers to bring their EEE back for collection and recycling. It has to be considered that survey respondents come from a higher socio-economic background and this may be a less important factor for them. However, this is a paradox as respondents answered in other questions that price was one of the most important elements when purchasing food products and second-hand EEE.  

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Drivers 

  

Convenience is the main driver motivating consumers to recycle EEE, followed by providing valuable information to consumers. Therefore, it is crucial that the eco-points system provides this information to empower end-users in the purchasing or reuse/ recycling behaviour. 

  

Barriers 

  

Respondents highlighted that the main obstacle to reducing their food waste is the lack of meal planning followed by the size of packaging. As found in a survey previously conducted by MMM[1], families demand more time to care for their children. In the reuse and recycling attitudes survey, it can be argued that lack of meal planning is a consequence of the lack of time. 

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Also, what came up very often in the comments was the lack of time to sort out or bring EEE to recycling points as an obstacle to reuse or recycle. Therefore, an interesting parallel can be drawn between the lack of time to care for the family and the lack of time to care for the environment. It is very important that in order to engage end-users in the circular economy, proposed solutions have to consider the economic impact on and the required investment in time and particularly for women. 

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Purchasing factors 

  

Respondents considered the following factors to be the most important when buying food products: price, seasonal products, type of packaging and use of chemicals. 

 

When purchasing EEE, respondents always considered the following components being of the utmost importance: the durability of the device, the durability of the battery, the presence of toxic components and the ease to repair. 

  

For more information about the survey results, please visit: https://www.circ4life.eu/results-of-surveys-uncovering-ways- 

 

To know more about our privacy policy: https://www.circ4life.eu/survey-privacy-policy 

 

Next steps 

In July 2020, we started to collect feedback on a survey on sustainable meat products on Alia shop in Lorca (Murcia, Spain) and another local regional products shop. We will publish the results at the end 2020. 

 

In Autumn 2020, a new survey on the understanding of the eco-points by end-users will be launched. 

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 776503. The views and opinions expressed in this website are purely those of the writers and may not in any circumstances be regarded as stating an official position of the European Commission.