The Dutch government has adopted a Circular Economy Action Agenda, which focuses on five sectors and value chains that are important to the economy but also have a high environmental burden: biomass and food; plastics; manufacturing industry; construction and built environment; and consumer goods.
Biomass and food
Biomass is a raw material for the animal feed, chemicals, transport fuel, and energy industries. It can be used to make many sectors greener and reduce carbon emissions. Also reducing food waste is a priority for the Netherlands. A great deal of perfectly good food is never eaten and is thrown away with household trash. Large quantities of food are also lost in harvesting, storage, and transportation. Food waste is not just a waste of money. It also wastes valuable resources like water, soil and energy. The government is committed to reducing food waste and food losses.
Plastics are everywhere. They are useful, but they damage the environment, in the form of plastic soup, plastic litter and microplastics in water, and impact on the climate. The government, industry, and environmental organizations have committed to plans to tackle plastic waste in the Plastic Pact.
The Plastic Pact was launched in the Netherlands in February 2019, and it is the first step to make single-use plastic products and packaging more sustainable and suitable for reuse. Ninety-seven parties have signed the pact, including producers, retailers and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management.
The manufacturing industry uses metals and other materials to make new products. These production processes are often environmentally harmful. Circular design based on the high-grade sustainable reuse of materials is needed.
Construction and the built environment
The construction sector accounts for 50% of raw materials consumption in the Netherlands. A large proportion of our waste comes from demolition. We need to step up the pace of innovations (such as circular and modular construction) in order to make our living environment more sustainable. The Netherlands is leading when it comes to developing the circular city of the future.
In 2020, the Netherlands launched a public private partnership aimed at circular urban development in the US, organized by Holland Circular Hotspot. The companies bring a wide variety of solutions, from urban farming to 100% sustainable neighborhoods and 3D-printed floors.
Consumer goods are packaged goods that we all use, from disposable cups to clothes, and from soft drinks to vacuum cleaners. Moving toward a circular fashion industry is one of the priorities of the Netherlands in this regard. An example is the Dutch denim deal, in which leading parties across the denim value chain are working to close the loop and achieve the necessary change and work towards using 20 percent post-consumer recycled cotton fibers in new jeans. Currently, an international denim deal between US and Dutch partners is being developed.