A Consortium Collaborative Program

Responsible Consumption Mission 2020-2023

The Responsible Consumption Mission led by BehaviourWorks Australia and its partners explore how systemic behavioural public policy experiments, that support 'responsible consumption', could have a substantial impact on reducing Australia's material-footprint*.

It is part of the BehaviourWorks Australia Consortium, which has a focus on identifying shared policy challenges between partners and tackling them with behavioural approaches. 

This Mission leverages the combined reach, resources and expertise of the following Consortium partners: Sustainability Victoria, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (Vic), the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water, and Environment, and The Shannon Company.

*Material-footprint is a consumption-based indicator of used raw material extraction to meet the final demand of the economy.

Mission summary

Download the Final Mission Report for a full outline of the three years of work, or read on for a brief summary:

Final Mission Report

What did we do

In April 2021, BehaviourWorks Australia and its partners came to an agreement on the Responsible Consumption Mission and its 'problem focus': to reduce Australia's material footprint through responsible consumption. We then worked to define the Mission 'goal' and the 'focus areas': textiles, furniture and electronics/electrical items.

We undertook Phase 1 of the Mission: Behaviour Prioritisation bJuly and September 2021 (see below 'Timeline of Mission Activities').

This involved identifying and working with a variety of 77 stakeholders to generate our "long-list" of 84 behaviour change challenges across 7 actors, and prioritising those behaviours to identify a "short-list" to take into the next phase of the mission. The final "short-list" of behaviours were:

  1. Consumers donate/sell pre-owned (usable) fashion items
  2. Consumers swap pre-owned fashion items
  3. Consumers donate/sell pre-owned furniture
  4. Consumers acquire pre-owned fashion items
  5. Manufacturers design electrical devices for end of life recovery (e.g. disassembly, modularity, repairability, recyclability)
  6. Manufacturers design furniture for end of life recovery (e.g. disassembly, modularity, repairability, recyclability)
  7. State/Federal governments enforce warranty procurement policy for electrical devices

For more information see:

Behaviour Prioritisation Summary Report

Phase 2 of the Mission: Intervention Co-design was completed between October 2021 and March 2022. This involved BehaviourWorks Australia taking a targeted group of stakeholders through a series of four workshops to refine the short-list of behaviours, understand the drivers/barriers of the behaviours, brainstorm potential intervention ideas, and finally prioritise ideas to take forward into Phase 3. To support understanding drivers and barriers, a variety of supporting research was also undertaken by BehaviourWorks Australia.

The final intervention chosen was:

  • Transforming the concept of second-hand stores to improve customer perceptions and experience, and reduce barriers to purchasing clothing and furniture second-hand by individual consumers.

Whilst this targets an individual consumer behaviour, the intervention is at the level of the retailer, and so attempts to adjust the system in order to create change.

For more information see:

Intervention Co-design Summary Report

Phase 3 of the Mission: Trialling was undertaken between May 2022 and April 2023. BehaviourWorks Australia was excited to work with Salvos Stores to understand and evaluate their efforts to transform their stores to improve the second-hand shopping experience for existing and new customers. The trial concluded that ‘uplifting’ stores can increase the extent of second-hand purchases, particularly amongst existing customers, but that additional interventions are needed to address individual barriers, in order to see widespread adoption amongst the Australian population.

For more information see:

Trialling Report

The final component of the work aimed to leverage the extensive information collected in Phase 1 by making it available to other change-makers across Australia. Using a process of behavioural system mapping, BehaviourWorks Australia mapped the range of behaviours and their connections with each other in online software. Systems thinking principles were then applied to draw conclusions about possible places to intervene in Australia’s systems of production and consumption in order to create broader change. 

For more information see:

Behavioural Roadmap to Circular Consumption Report

What's happening now?

We are currently looking for partners to support in the next phase of the Behavioural Roadmap to Circular Consumption.

Contact us to enquire about potential future partnerships.

Help us improve this initiative

Has the BWA Waste and Circular Economy Collaboration made a difference for you?

Please feel free to visit the program web page if you want to refresh your understanding of the program or access key reports (see below) before proceeding.


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