Consumers in the circular economy
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The circular economy is poised to transform economic systems and contribute to sustainable development. Most of the attention has focussed on how production can become circular by developing innovative business models, processes and products that close material loops. However, although these solutions are required to inspire radical changes, the lack of demand for such offerings (both perceived and real) has been highlighted in literature as a significant barrier. Enabling such demand necessitates a deep understanding of the consumer and the processes by which consumption patterns, and the social practices they result from, are transformed. It requires an understanding of the actors that need to be involved in such processes, as well as tools and design interventions that will contribute to a circular economy. In this chapter, we provide insights regarding these aspects based on existing and ongoing research that focuses on consumption-related aspects of the circular economy. We first introduce some consumer behaviours in a circular economy, and examine factors which may influence adoption or acceptance of circular products and services. We then describe some strategies and concepts for introducing circularity to consumers, in the form of business models, design and communications strategies, and finally we discuss some of the challenges of circular consumption.