The Behavioural Roadmap to Circular Consumption, developed by Monash University’s BehaviourWorks Australia, identifies where policy-makers and industry can intervene in the production-consumption cycle to create change, reduce Australia’s material footprint and encourage efficient use of limited resources as the most effective way to confront the ongoing waste crisis.
Different from a Carbon Footprint, a Material Footprint is an indicator of raw material extraction used to meet the final demand of the economy. Available online, the Behavioural Roadmap identifies connections between all parties, consumers and their behaviours to better understand relationships and influences in the system.
Together with the online behavioural system map, policymakers can explore these connections to develop or review systemic behavioural public policies that encourage ‘responsible consumption’ and reduce Australia’s material footprint.
Lead researcher Jennifer Macklin said the connections are between consumers and other stakeholders in the system, such as designers, producers, importers, retailers, service providers, government, and the civil sector.
“The point is that we’re not just placing responsibility on consumers, but looking at the roles of everyone in the production and consumption cycle,” said Ms Macklin.
“It’s the first time policymakers have a tool that highlights the behaviours with the most transformation potential in order to achieve a circular economy.
“The Behavioural Roadmap highlights eight core circular behaviours as options consumers and policy makers could adopt to help reduce Australia’s material footprint, including three key places that policy makers can intervene to speed up the transformation of the whole-of-production and consumption system.”
• Borrow and rent items or services: Focus new behaviour change efforts on enabling and encouraging both individual and organisational consumers to borrow or rent items instead of buying.
• Source items second-hand: Continue and expand behaviour change efforts to mainstream ‘buying second-hand instead of new’ for individuals and explore scalable practices for organisational procurement.
• Buy items built to last: Ensure retailed products are built to last through minimum design standards; then include ‘built to last’ into organisations’ sustainable and circular procurement policies.
“The impact of consumer demand on product choice is well known but a change at any stage of the supply chain can also influence customer action beyond simply what products are placed on the market.”
“Third-party service providers and community organisations can also influence consumers, while government and civil society can also have a direct, and indirect impact respectively on all stakeholders,” said Ms Macklin.