This report analyses the opportunities and obstacles that will present themselves as the Netherlands moves towards a more circular economy. It proposes a number of actions that can be taken, particularly by the government, to accelerate this process.
The concept of a ‘circular economy’ refers to an economic and industrial system that is based on the reusability of products and raw materials, and the restorative capacity of natural resources. It also attempts to minimize value destruction in the overall system and to maximize value creation in each link in the system.
This report quantifies these economic and other opportunities to the greatest degree possible and examines their potential impact on employment and the environment. This analysis focuses primarily on the overall Dutch economy, but begins by examining two cases − the circular economy for products from the metal and electrical sectors, and the use of waste streams from biomass. The first case focuses on ‘abiotic’ materials, and the second on ‘biotic’ materials, both of which present their own specific challenges and opportunities. This report aims to answer the following questions: – What opportunities would present themselves if the Netherlands were to accelerate the transition to a circular economy? – How can these opportunities be used, how can obstacles be removed, and what shape should this transition take? – What part can the government play in this process?
An expansion of the circular economy for technical products in the Netherlands initially means advocating more maintenance and repair work, intensive reuse and increased recycling. Of course, these activities are already happening. So we can already speak, to a certain extent, of a circular economy. By looking at 17 product categories from the metal and electrical sectors, we estimate that the current value of the circular economy for these products is €3.3 billion and that an additional market value of €573 million per year could be achieved by responding to a broad range of opportunities identified by stakeholders and experts. With respect to value creation with biotic waste streams, the Netherlands has the advantage of being a densely populated country with an active agricultural sector and a large agro-food industry. As a result, significant biotic waste streams are available. The 34 most important waste streams have been identified: the use of these waste streams already represents a value of €3.5 billion. An estimated investment of €4 billion to €8 billion per year in new technologies could create added value of €1 billion per year for the circular economy in the areas of biorefining, biogas extraction and more comprehensive systems for sorting household waste.