The project investigates how the circular economy (CE) is made sense of in food systems, and suggests methods to facilitate constructive collaboration between multiple players.
The circular economy (CE) —understood as one in which maximum value is obtained from resources during use, avoidable waste is eliminated and unavoidable waste reused or recycled—is growing in prominence as an alternative to the prevailing linear system (of ‘take, make and dispose’).
Today’s food sector increasingly aims to embed CE principles by changing existing production and consumption systems to share and re-circulate material and energy which would otherwise be lost. But this transition requires effective collaboration between multiple players which can prove difficult to coordinate, particularly since people may have different and competing interpretations of the hopeful, ambitious and ambiguous CE concept.
This research uses symbolic interactionism and practice theory and develops ‘agonistic approaches’ to communication to understand how the CE is made sense of in food systems, and suggests methods to facilitate constructive collaboration.
The project consists of four work packages:
- a discourse analysis of the meanings attributed to CE in the food system and a survey monitoring perceptions of CE;
- a case study of CE initiatives, to identify the communicative procedures and norms which are in use;
- an interactive research module with a workshop with practitioners sharing experiences and formulating best practice;
- a synthesis of the three previous WPs suggesting novel methods for collaboration and communication to achieve CE in food system projects.