The Netherlands has selected five economic sectors that are important to the Dutch economy and have a big impact on the environment. These sectors are also the aim of the US-Dutch cooperation on the circular economy. 

Biomass and food

Goal 2050: Use biomass to combat food waste, reduce of CO2, and as a replacement for fossil fuels. 

Biomass is comprised of the biodegradable plant residual and animal fats, a renewable resource that is useful in the circular economy. It captures CO2 and can be used for various purposes, such as cardboard products, yet it can replace fossil fuels as well. Our food has to be produced in a sustainable manner: circular farming.

The Netherlands has the following strategies:

  1. Make optimal use of biomass and food by closing nutrient cycles
  2. Decrease the use and replace fossil fuels by sustainably produced biomass
  3. Develop and introduce new ways of production and consumption, leading to better management of biomass and food

Plastics

Goal 2050: Only recycled and bio-based plastics.

The many uses and low price of plastic has caused a steep increase in its production. Now the indestructibility is turning into a negative characteristic, as it only deteriorates into micro-plastics. Thus recycling, reuse, and rethinking the use of plastics will alleviate the problem. Plastics are now mainly fossil fuel-based. If the technology allows, the Netherlands aims to only have recycled and bio-based plastics.

The Ocean Cleanup has developed a technique to gather plastics from the oceans, to get it back to land and ready for recycling or other purposes. The Ocean Cleanup is planning to sell the plastic under its own brand name. As of now, the first test phase along the coast of California is happening. When fully operated, it is expected to reduce the so-called Great Pacific Garbage Patch by 50 percent in five years.

Manufacturing industry

Goal 2050: Reuse and recycle minerals and metals

Through the rapid surge in technologies available, the demand for raw materials as metals and minerals is on the rise. Their extraction and processing is putting a strain on the environment and climate. Therefore, the Netherlands has the following strategies:

  1. Where possible transfer to common, less strained resources as a substitute.
  2. Increase efficiency in the production process and reuse the minerals and metals.
  3. Introduce new ways of production and consumption.
  4. Businesses and government shall buy circular.
  5. Move from fossil to renewable, or bio-based resources.

Construction

Goal 2050: Buildings and other structures are built, (re)used, maintained and demolished sustainably.

Construction is an important employment and production sector in the Netherlands. At the same time, it is one of the most polluting sectors. The Netherlands wants to focus on efficiency in building and designing in a way that resources can be reused.

  1. There is a focus on renewable resources in construction.
  2. Material use is optimized throughout its lifecycle.
  3. The sector will reduce as many CO2 emissions, in production (design), building and usage.

Consumer goods

Goal 2050: All consumer goods are made from universally available raw materials.

Consumer goods are all goods (and their packaging) that are consumed by individuals and businesses. Think about clothing, but also furniture or a cup of coffee on the go. By facilitating more return-options, new business models and cooperation structures, the Netherlands will incite more circularity of consumer goods.

Discarded consumer goods are already separated and recycled in the Netherlands. However, half of them are still incinerated and landfilled. About 8 million tons of waste a year is generated by people and businesses.

  1. In 2022, the amount of waste produced by businesses and organizations should be halved and the maximum amount of waste produced by a household can’t exceed 100kg per person in 2020. Finally, by 2025, the Netherlands wants all consumer goods to be kept in the economy and not put to waste.
  2. The Netherlands wants all consumer goods to be sustainable and made from universally available raw materials by 2050. All the waste products must be recycle and used to make new products. No waste should be left over.