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Transition to a Sustainable Circular Plastics Economy in The Netherlands: Discourse and Policy Analysis

Calisto Friant, Martin; Lakerveld, Dirkjan; Vermeulen, Walter J. V.; Salomone, Roberta


Martin Calisto Friant

Dirkjan Lakerveld

Walter J. V. Vermeulen

Roberta Salomone


Claire Lea
Project Manager


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.


Calisto Friant, M., Lakerveld, D., Vermeulen, W. J. V., & Salomone, R. (2022). Transition to a Sustainable Circular Plastics Economy in The Netherlands: Discourse and Policy Analysis. Sustainability, 14(1), Article 190.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 20, 2021
Online Publication Date Dec 24, 2021
Publication Date Jan 1, 2022
Deposit Date Feb 14, 2022
Publicly Available Date Mar 4, 2022
Journal Sustainability
Publisher MDPI
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 14
Issue 1
Article Number 190
Keywords Circular economy; Plastics; Circular society; Policy analysis; Discourse analysis; Extended producer responsibility; Polymer; Recycling; Environmental governance; Sustainability
Public URL


Published article (4.9 Mb)

Copyright Statement
Copyright: © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https:// 4.0/).

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