Friant, Martin Calisto, Dirkjan Lakerveld, Walter J. V. Vermeulen, & Roberta Salomone (2021, December). Transition to a sustainable circular plastics economy in The Netherlands: Discourse and policy analysis. Sustainability, 14(1), art. 190. (Open Access: https://

Abstract: The circular economy (CE) has become a key sustainability discourse in the last decade. The Netherlands seeks to become fully circular by 2050 and the EU has set ambitious circularity targets in its CE Action Plan of 2015. The plastics sector, in particular, has gained a lot of attention as it is a priority area of both the EU and Dutch CE policies. However, there has been little research on the different and often contested discourses, governance processes and policy mechanisms guiding the transition to a circular economy and society. This paper aims to fill these gaps by asking what circular discourses and policies are being promoted in the Netherlands and what sustainability implications and recommendations can be drawn from it. It does so through a mix of media analysis, policy analysis, semi-structured interviews, and surveys using Q-methodology. Results indicate a dominance of technocentric imaginaries, and a general lack of discussion on holistic, and transformative visions, which integrate the full social, political, and ecological implication of a circular future. To address those challenges, this research brings key policy insights and recommendations which can help both academics and practitioners better understand and implement the transition towards a sustainable circular plastics economy.

Martin Calisto Friant <> is in the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.