More than 180 signatories for the National Raw Materials Agreement
In order to ensure a sufficient supply of raw materials in the future to meet the increasing demand for products, we need a radical change in the way we handle raw materials and waste. With this in mind, more then 180 parties signed the National Raw Materials Agreement in The Hague. The document contains agreements on having the Dutch economy operate on the basis of reusable raw materials. Signing on behalf of the Cabinet were Minister for the Environment Dijksma and Minister Kamp (Economic Affairs). The Dutch business community was represented by Hans de Boer (VNO-NCW) and Michaël van Straalen (MKB-Nederland).
For instance, by increasing the volumes of existing plastic that are recycled and reused for new products and packaging, less oil will be needed as raw material to produce new plastic. As one of the signatories, the Dutch food giant Unilever is taking the lead by committing to the use of 100 % recyclable plastic for its packaging by 2025. Because the reuse of materials requires far less energy than the processing of new raw materials, less greenhouse gases are released into the air, which is better for the climate. With the transition to a circular economy, the Netherlands will become much less dependent on raw materials imported from abroad.
Environment Minister Dijksma emphasises the importance of the agreement: ‘We must extract ourselves from the throwaway culture and change the way we think about raw materials and waste. When designing products, we should consider how we can reuse the raw materials from which they are made. This agreement lays the foundation for this recycle economy and is the first step towards tackling the unnecessary waste of raw materials and the depletion of the earth’s resources.’
Minister Kamp also sees opportunities for the Dutch economy through cost savings and the creation of a new manufacturing industry: ‘A circular economy is not only good for our climate, it also produces income and creates jobs. Studies show that up to 2023 the circular economy in the Netherlands will have a market value of 7.3 billion euros a year and provide 54,000 jobs. This presents abundant opportunities to the business community, such as the possibilities provided by 3D printing or the greening of the chemical industry.’
According to Michaël van Straalen of MKB-Nederland (organisation representing small and medium-sized businesses), small innovative companies in particular can play an important role through innovations that break with existing habits and processes. This would be good both for the environment and for small and medium-sized businesses. Hans de Boer of VNO-NCW (Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers): ‘In geopolitical terms, Europe should become more self-sufficient in the area of raw materials and, owing to its logistical role in Europe, the Netherlands is the best country to claim the key position in this effort.’
The Association of Dutch Municipalities (Vereniging van Nederlandse Gemeenten), the Association of Provincial Authorities (Interprovinciaal Overleg), innovative start-up companies, financial institutions, trade unions and environmental organisations have also signed the agreements. The National Raw Materials Agreement builds on the plan of the Cabinet presented in September 2016 for the transition to a circular economy. The signatories can now make concrete plans to accelerate this transition. Concrete plans on the subjects of biomass, food, plastics, manufacturing, construction and consumer goods will be completed within six months. These plans will set forth the steps to be taken to realise a full circular economy by 2050.
For the current list of signatories: www.circulaireeconomienederland.nl/ondertekenaars/ (in Dutch)