Speech by Stientje van Veldhoven, State Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management, at the Sino-Dutch Circular Economy Cooperation Seminar, Ritz Carlton, Guangzhou,

‘The world urgently needs new knowledge for an economy that safeguards prosperity for future generations. And China and the Netherlands can play a leading role here.’
Speech by Stientje van Veldhoven, State Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management, at the Sino-Dutch Circular Economy Cooperation Seminar in Guangzhou, 11 April 2018

Ladies and gentlemen,

First, thank you for inviting me to speak at this seminar. It’s very special to be here this week. Especially as part of such a big Dutch delegation: it includes our prime minister, three ministers and more than 170 business representatives.
The size of our delegation reflects the strong ties between China and the Netherlands.
Our countries aren’t just trading partners. We’re knowledge partners too.
We’re very curious about  each other’s know how and innovations.
I greatly admire China’s openness and its willingness to learn from others.
And we’re equally keen to learn more about the large-scale developments in China.

When it comes to the topic of this seminar, that mutual curiosity is key. Because we need to learn from each other in order to tackle the challenges ahead.
The global population is projected to grow by a third over the next 35 years.
So by 2050 there will be 10 billion people on the planet.
And all these people will need food. They’ll need energy. They’ll need clean drinking water, clean air and clean oceans – so no plastic soup!
This will only be possible if countries and the private sector take their responsibility and work together to make the transition to a different economic model.
A circular economy in which waste is a raw material. In which products are designed so they can be used again and again. An economy that safeguards prosperity for future generations.

The world urgently needs new knowledge to make this happen. And China and the Netherlands can play a leading role here. Because of our inventiveness.
It’s inspiring to see how China – one of the world’s largest economies – takes responsibility in the area of waste and recycling:
-    China wants to increase the volume of recovered household solid waste. Dozens of big cities are introducing waste separation systems. The aim is 35 per cent recycling by 2020.
-    By 2020 China wants to recycle at least 50 per cent of plastic waste used in parcels. That’s significant when you consider that nine million parcels are delivered every day!

The Netherlands, too, is working hard to achieve an economy without waste, an economy that reuses raw materials. We want to have a completely circular economy by 2050.

And we’re tackling this challenge the Dutch way: through close cooperation between government, private sector, science and the academic world.
We’ve now got a National Raw Materials Agreement. Five sectors have already drawn up their own road maps for going circular – plastics, biomass and food, consumer goods, manufacturing, and construction.
These plans translate words into action. They’re full of practical measures to do things differently.
To use less concrete – or no concrete at all.
To stop burning plastics – and to make plastics that aren’t fossil-based. China’s import ban on plastic waste is giving a big boost to innovation!
So these are the things we’re working on now.

I’m proud that China is interested in Dutch expertise in this area.
In Guangdong, for instance, we’re working with the Guangdong Association for Circular Economy. The city is very active in waste management and circular economy.
Other promising Sino-Dutch projects focus on circular industrial parks [TNO met Zhuhai Gaolan Petrochemical Industrial Park]. On organic waste processing –  ventures with Orgaworld and Waste Treatment Technologies. Or on waste collection, compacting and transport – a project that Hyva’s involved in.
Other companies are exploring opportunities for partnerships in processing packaging waste, including packaging waste produced by e-commerce.
I can’t wait to hear the presentations on these projects!

Many Dutch companies are eager to deploy their knowledge here in China. You’ll learn more about some of them today.
This seminar ties in well with the vibrant relationship between China and the Netherlands. We’re both keen to learn from each other, we both have a knowledge-driven approach and we both have big plans to create economies without waste.
Here’s to an inspiring seminar!
Thank you.