Let’s Talk about Circular Economy: A Qualitative Exploration of Consumer Perceptions

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Consumer involvement plays a major role in the circular economy (CE), which requires a new and more active role of consumers. However, consumer awareness of and interest and involvement in the CE is low. Therefore, we aimed to find the starting points for consumer involvement in activities that promote a CE by exploring consumers’ general perceptions of the CE and several practice cases. Four focus group discussions were conducted (N = 24) in the Netherlands. The group discussions showed that most consumers did not have a clear understanding of the term “circular economy,” although their associations pointed in the right direction. Perceptions, attitudes, motives and barriers in terms of advantages and disadvantages varied among the participants and were related to (1) the functionalities of the products, (2) the production system, (3) economic aspects and (4) emotions such as concern about risks. We identified four key messages: targeting with regard to behaviours, attitudes and product functionalities; aligning with emotions; linking to practical cases; and applying multidimensional CE-related behaviour in everyday life and involving consumers in its innovation. These key messages are helpful in overcoming obstacles and barriers, raising awareness and providing input for sustainable consumption and production in the CE. View Full-Text
Original languageEnglish
Article number286
Issue number1
Early online date30 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Attitudes
  • Bio-economy
  • Circular initiatives
  • Consumption
  • Focus group
  • Food packaging
  • Waste valorisation


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