Moving from niche to Norm: Lessons from food waste initiatives

Lusine H. Aramyan*, Gonne Beekman, Joris Galama, Sandra van der Haar, Maarten Visscher, Gertrude G. Zeinstra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


For a transition to a circular economy to take place, behavioural change from people who are part of the transition is a key requirement. However, this change often does not occur by itself. For systemic behavioural change, policy instruments that incentivise behaviour supporting circular food systems play a key role. These instruments need to be aligned with the environment in which the behaviour takes place. In this study, we scrutinise a case study with five initiatives on the reduction of food loss and waste (FLW) contributing to a circular food system, to understand how specific, well-targeted combinations of instruments as well as other contextual and personal factors can fuel the transition to a circular economy and the reduction of FLW. All the initiatives are taking place under the umbrella of the Dutch initiative “United against food waste” (STV). We use a behavioural change perspective to assess how initiatives that support circular food systems arise and how they can be further supported. Based on the case-study analysis, we arrive at five common success traits and barriers, and five key needs for upscaling. We conclude that motivated, inspiring frontrunners are of key importance in the initial phase of a transition process. However, once a niche initiative is ready to be scaled up, the enabling environment becomes increasingly important.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7667
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jul 2021


  • Behavioural change
  • Case study
  • Circular economy
  • Food waste


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