Dr. Walter Vermeulen

Vening Meineszgebouw A
Princetonlaan 8a
Kamer 7.34
3584 CB Utrecht

Dr. Walter Vermeulen

Associate Professor
Environmental Governance
+31 30 253 2989

“For a truly circular economy, producers need to have far better incentives to use raw materials more efficiently.”

Research focus: transition to a circular economy, Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), governance and assessment of sustainable products, theoretical underpinning of sustainability

Walter Vermeulen is Associate Professor at the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development at Utrecht University. His research focuses on the governance of sustainable production and consumption systems. He lectures on business, sustainability and innovation; and innovative approaches to governance for sustainable development. He has also been active in the International Sustainable Development Research Society (ISDRS) as a past President.

Vermeulen works as an environmental scientist on widespread adoption of circular strategies. This is done through start-ups, financial and policy incentives, among other things. In his view, sustainable design should be a much more attractive option than it is now. Rewarding pioneers with financial incentives could make it more interesting to use more recycled materials in new products. If this were done at the European level, the demand for recycled products would increase and it would become less and less attractive to opt for primary raw materials. According to Vermeulen, governments can also discourage less circular options by tightening the rules. In doing so, his research and education contributes to scaling up innovative recycling technologies and processes that bring the circular transition closer.

One of the ways to encourage the development and promotion of sustainable products is to use the Oiconomy Pricing method, in which companies identify the hidden costs throughout the production chain.

Areas of interest:

  • Social science analysis of governance practices for sustainable development, joint approaches of market, civil society and governments
  • Theoretical underpinnings of measuring sustainability (see key points here) and transdisciplinary research (see recent publication on this)
  • Main current focus on circular economy (see a short intro here)
  • In addition, currently a new method for measuring the hidden costs of unsustainable products (see explanation here)
  • Focus on sustainability of globally traded products

De weg naar een Circulaire Economie (in Dutch)