ECESP Leadership Group on Retailers & Consumers: reflections Summer 2020

Start/End date
Discussed key areas
Sectors in focus
Coordination Group activity type

Our consumption behaviour has a major effect on the world we live in. We are constantly receiving information regarding the complex environmental and social pressures being exerted on the planet.

Here is an overview of the main points for retailer activities to foster the uptake of circular options among consumers. Retailers:

  1. offer a huge variety of products and are thus in direct contact with a large network of suppliers, including manufacturers and distributors. This gives retailers the opportunity to edit choices through selecting and deselecting products (e.g. eliminate single use plastics from the portfolio) as well as to work together with their producer and supplier companies to stimulate circular manufacturing and as well as the design and development of more circular products and services (upstream activities / choice editing);
  2. are also able to provide consumers with a new option to choose from, which may meet unmet needs. The selection of the new option (e.g. selling reused smartphones) is optional while previous options are still available to consumers (upstream activities / choice expansion);
  3. can shape the content and environment in which shopping and disposal decisions are made. Changes in the environment may lead to different behaviours. For example, reducing plate size by 20% among the restaurants that belong to the Ecobeneficios network led to a reduction of food waste by 50% (Ecobeneficios, 2015). Changes in the store design and promotional materials may lead to different consumer choices either consciously or sub-consciously. These learnings are increasingly being translated into online shopping experiences as well (downstream activities / choice environment);
  4. could further explore potential business opportunities arising from enabling consumers to have a more active role in the transition, e.g. as ‘prosumers’ (i.e. consumers that produce), as repairers (e.g. through DIY offers or capacity building) or as actors in the sharing economy (downstream activities / complementing choice).

In this context, it is crucial for the Leadership Group to:
•    understand the needs and challenges of retailers in embracing the circular economy;
•    further explore the retailer entry points to support circular options and behaviours in view of impactful circular economy business innovations, through the mapping and discussion of existing promising practices;
•    test and learn from pilot interventions and new solutions.

The bigger vision of this group comprise of various components, to be further discussed during group work:
•    creating a Leadership Forum, founded on an evidence-based menu of options on how to scale up the transition to circular behaviours and options among retailers;
•    designing and implementing circular behaviour pilot interventions;
•    developing a new narrative around making circular behaviours easy to take up, normal and aspirational.