By Bart de Jong

Counselor, Infrastructure and the Environment

Royal Netherlands Embassy, Washington, D.C.

The Royal Netherlands Embassy and the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation held a seminar in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 11 dedicated to boosting the circular economy.

The morning panel discussions focused on how and why businesses can move toward a circular economy, and how governments can help with the transition.

Speakers emphasized that the linear economic model of take-make-waste, which the world has relied on for more than two centuries, is no longer sustainable. The growth of the world’s population and economy is depleting natural resources.

The afternoon sessions revolved around three thematic workshops. International businesses like Phillips, Tarkett Flooring, Delta Development Group, OMA, Waternet, Reststoffenunie and Optoro highlighted their circular economy projects and views.

It was noted that industry and academia are developing innovative concepts, whereas governments could give guidance and facilitate. These three parties need to collaborate for successful implementation of the circular economy to promote tremendous economic opportunities.

Jennifer Gerholdt of the Chamber of Commerce Foundation moderated the seminar. Opening remarks were made by Ambassador Henne Schuwer and Congressman Paul Tonko (D-NY), whereas keynote speeches were delivered by John Lanier, Executive Director of the Ray C. Anderson Foundation, and William McDonough of MBDC and co-author of “Cradle to Cradle: Rethinking The Way We Make Things.”

Transforming the linear model into a circular economy is urgently needed, which is why accelerating the circular economy is a priority of the Netherlands EU presidency the first half of 2016.

The Netherlands is moving ever closer to an economic system that focuses on the re-usability of products and raw materials while minimizing wasted energy and resources.

The Feb. 11 seminar is but one example of how we exchange our ideas on the “circular economy” with our partners around the world.

Implementing a circular economy could lead to annual savings of $340 billion to $360 billion per year in the EU alone. It will lead to private sector revenue generation, stimulate innovation and job growth.

Imagine how it could help the US economy while simultaneously helping our world. The possibilities are plentiful, and provide wonderful opportunities for the Dutch and America to collaborate.

A full report, program with the full list of speakers, and presentations from the conference can be found here.