Researchers and societal partners develop new insights, technologies, and policies to help society become circular.

Towards a Circular Economy and Society is a platform for scientists of Utrecht University and stakeholders to jointly contribute to the transition to a sustainable circular society.

Environmental degradation, climate change, and scarcity of resources are key challenges for modern society. From the stone age to modern society, materials provide essential services to mankind. Indeed, materials touch every aspect and moment of our lives. As a result of global population growth and increased prosperity there is an increasing demand for raw materials.

Today, we extract, produce, process and dispose more material than ever before, leading to exponential growth. This leads to increased environmental pressures and is clearly unsustainable. Dealing with this explosive demand for materials is one of the main challenges we face in the 21st century. This is also recognised by the Dutch government and the European Commission in their circular economy policies. These challenges makes it necessary to fundamentally change our ways of production and consumption. In Dutch and European policy the transition to a circular economy (in a broad sense) is seen as essential for facing these challenges and realising sustainable use of resources.

Research Approach

This community has the ambition to develop new science and technology solutions for a circular economy and to lay the foundation for a better system understanding of the circular society of the future through the creation of a vibrant interdisciplinary research community, focussing on three lines of research:

Projects and Funding Opportunities


This community contributes to various transdisciplinary research projects of Utrecht University. Do you need help developing your project concerning the transition towards a circular society, or want to read more about our current projects? Check out our projects page.

Read more about projects

Funding Opportunities

Do you need funding for a project surrounding the transition to the circular economy or want to read more about our current funding opportunities? Check out our funding page.

Read more about funding


Circular Economy depends largely on producers taking responsibility for recycling of products after consumers dispose them and for improving their design. For various types of products (like cars, tyres, electronics, packaging, batteries) this extended producer responsibility has been introduced in the last few decades in the EU and also in the Netherlands as a legal obligation. In this video we show how this works and what needs to be improved to achieve the ambitious Dutch policy goals (reduction of the use of virgin resource for product with 50% by 2030). We discuss the garment sector as an example to show that the organisation model and the financial fee structure of extended producer responsibility schemes need to be renewed.