Normalizing novel sanitation practices in transitioning towards circular food and energy systems

Martijn Stehouwer, Sigrid Wertheim-Heck, Bas van Vliet*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Wastewater from sanitation contains several scarce resources that can be reused for purposes of energy and food production. Sanitation infrastructures, however, are often overlooked in debates on circular food systems, while the role of sanitation could be pivotal in combatting resource depletion facing agriculture. Transitioning sanitation infrastructures to support circular systems also needs a thorough understanding of the sanitation practices involved, as resource-oriented sanitation systems require a de-routinization in how we make use of toilets and deal with wastewater. Instead, novel sanitation practices are needed for circular developments around sanitation to become successfully part of daily routines and ensure the reuse potential of wastewater. This research paper focuses on understanding how sanitation practices are shaped and embedded and its implications for the re-routinization of novel sanitation practices. A mixed-method research design has been adopted comparing sanitation practices and infrastructures in three distinct neighborhoods within the Amsterdam Metropolitan Region. First, a survey was conducted that enabled the typology of neighborhoods. Second, in-depth interviews in three neighborhoods were conducted to uncover the embeddedness of sanitation practices. Results highlight the importance of re-routinizing practice when linking sanitation to food systems and list five mechanisms that may help normalizing novel sanitation practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)302-314
JournalEnvironmental Sociology
Issue number3
Early online date1 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2022


  • circularity
  • energy
  • food
  • sanitation
  • Social practice
  • sustainability


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