Work Package 5: Circular Society

Flora Poppelaars and Jos Vlugter are industrial design engineers specialized in consumer behaviour in the transition to a circular economy. They work as consultants in the Circular Economy team of Partners for Innovation, a Dutch consultancy for sustainable and circular innovations. In the INCREACE project, they are responsible for the two themes of Work Package 5 (WP5) Circular Society.

What is the role of WP5 in the INCREACE project?

“We should not assume that people will automatically participate in circular innovations. In addition to technical breakthroughs, people and communities play a crucial role in the circular plastics transition. Both at the start of the consumption cycle through purchase and at the endthrough collection. That’s where WP5 comes in. We want to involve people and communities in the design of solutions to enhance consumer acceptance of recycled content and improve the collection experience of used electrical and electronic equipment (EEE).”

What are the main goals and tasks of your work package?

“Our goal is two-fold: to foster sustainable purchasing decisions to reintroduce recycled electrical and electronic products in the market, and to enhance society’s participation in the collection of used EEE products to be looped back into the market.

People will be actively engaged throughout the process. We first defined the state-of-the-art of research on these topics and identified knowledge gaps. Next, we will design valuable and effective experiences for and with consumers. This will result in practical design implications to guide product service systems design and value propositions to support people and communities during the purchasing and divestment (end-of-use) phases.”

What challenges do you face within the WP and how are you addressing them?

”Various barriers stand in the way of consumer acceptance of recycled plastics in EEE. Interestingly, brand owners have certain assumptions on consumer behaviour but lack validation through user research. Together with consumers, we want to tailor design guidelines for designers and marketeers to overcome these challenges.

No universal factor could be found in literature nor practice to guide consumers towards collection solutions. The field of Design for Divestment is in its infancy and requires further deepening, diversification and consolidation to mature. By designing valuable goodbyes to end-of-use EEE with consumers, we aim to have concrete lessons for designers and marketeers.”

Could you tell us about the partners involved in the Work package and the reasons for their participation?

“Empowering people and communities in the circular plastic transition affects the whole recycled plastic value chain: from knowledge institutes to product designers and from plastic producers and EEE manufacturers to EEE recyclers. To define the state-of-the-art and knowledge gaps, to co-create r-plastic acceptance strategies and to design effective collection methods, we involve a lot of consortium partners. This includes knowledge partners IZM, IVV, KUL, product designer Pezy, plastic producer and brand owner Skaza, Original Equipment Manufacturer Philips and Producer Responsibility Organization Erion.”

What do you anticipate the impact of your Work package to be?

“With the practical results of the WP, we hope to contribute to making consumers an integral part of the full consumption cycle and design process.”

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    This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under grand agreement No 101058487