State Secretary making a case for an economy without waste
The times of manufacturing things, using them, and subsequently discarding or incinerating them are over. The Netherlands is working hard on achieving an economy without waste by 2050: a circular economy. In addition to offering great opportunities for the business community, the continuous reuse of raw materials will help to attain the Dutch climate goals.
State Secretary Stientje van Veldhoven (Infrastructure and Water Management) stated this Friday in a memorandum to the Lower House.
Ms Van Veldhoven: ‘The fact is that a finite earth does not have an unlimited supply of raw materials. So we can either go looking for a second or even third planet, or we can embark on a circular economy. And considering the number of plans already developed and the energy being expended on circularising the economy, I am highly optimistic. The Netherlands is well on its way and on the right track for 2050!’
Circularising the economy
In response to the plans for circularising the Netherlands by 2050, Ms Van Veldhoven has joined other Cabinet members in addressing issues such as:
- commitment to circular design. This means that reuse will
already be factored in even before products are actually
designed. For that reason, the Cabinet is going to set down
circular design in the attainment targets of all the relevant
university-level and vocational training programmes.
- the conclusion of a Concrete Agreement. Such an agreement
between, inter alia, principals, concrete manufacturers, and
contractors will stipulate the reuse of all concrete waste. This
will help to reduce CO2 emissions.
- increasing the responsibility of disposables, furniture, and
textile manufacturers for their discarded products. For
example, imposing higher waste collection fees on products
that cannot be recycled or are difficult to recycle.
- a ban on plastic disposables. This means that single-use
plastic plates, straws, coffee stirrers, and Q-tips will no longer
be manufactured. The Netherlands wholeheartedly supports
the proposals by the European Commission to this end. In
addition, State Secretary Van Veldhoven is working on a Plastic
Pact involving a broad-based strategy for plastics. The Pact is
expected to be completed in 2019.
- best practices of Dutch governments focusing on
sustainability in procurement processes. For example, with
effect from 2030, everything commissioned by the Central
Government Real Estate Agency, Rijkswaterstaat, and ProRail
must be circular. The Ministry of Defence has put out a similar
tender for its workwear and Rijkswaterstaat for sustainable
office furniture. Government catering is also being circularised
step by step. By 2021, such efforts will already reduce CO2
emissions by a total of 1 Mton, which is on a par with the
emissions produced by families in Rotterdam through their
consumption of natural gas.
- ensuring, in collaboration with entrepreneurs and banks, that
businesses with appropriate plans are able to market their
products. Under the Climate Budget, the Cabinet can support
well-tested circular concepts with a view to cost-effective CO2
Conducive to climate tasking
A circular economy will help to attain the climate goals. The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agengy has calculated that a circular economy by 2030 will cut CO2 emissions by nearly 8 Mton, increasing to 13 Mton by 2050. A circular economy can thus account for some 15 per cent of the total CO2 reduction of 56 Mton by 2030 as set out in the Coalition Agreement.