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Circular Economy

What policies support these ambitions?

There are several policy measures that stimulate a circular economy, both at Dutch and European level. At the Dutch level, the programme Van Afval Naar Grondstof (VANG) and the Versnellingshuis Nederland Circulair are in lead; at the European level, there are various policy packages. A non-exhaustive overview of the policy is given below.

National level

In order to switch to a circular economy, the central government and other governments are taking various measures. For example, the central government has set up the Versnellingshuis Nederland Circular, concluded several Green Deals, and launched the programmes Van Afval Naar Grondstof (VANG) and the Ruimte in Regelels voor Groene Groei (Space in Rules for Green Growth). A detailed overview of the central government’s policy from 2018 is given in the Cabinet’s response to the transition agendas for the circular economy (Van Veldhoven, 2018).

Versnellingshuis Nederland Circulair

In 2019, the central government and various partners set up the Versnellingshuis Nederland Circulair (Acceleration House Netherlands Circular) to assist entrepreneurs in scaling up circular business models. Entrepreneurs can ask questions about knowledge, financing and legislation and regulations. The Versnellingshuis also helps CE by giving entrepreneurs access to an extensive network of cooperation partners. Part of the Versnellingshuis CE is the online community CirculairOndernemen.nl, where supply and demand of organizations in the circular economy meet (Het Groene Brein, 2019; VNO-NCW, 2019).

More info on the website of the Versnellingshuis Nederland Circular.

Green Deals

Green Deals are agreements between the central government, companies, civil society organisations and other government bodies to give society’s innovative, sustainable initiatives room to manoeuvre. By means of clear mutual agreements, participants can work towards concrete results, in which each party involved has its own responsibility. Since the start in 2011, more than 200 Green Deals have been concluded, many of which relate to the circular economy, for example:

  • Netherlands Hotspot for Circular Economy: this Green Deal aims to accelerate the transition to a circular economy by carrying out scalable circular projects;
  • Circular Procurement 2.0 (in Dutch): Following on from the 2014 Green Deal Circular Procurement, this Green Deal focuses on scaling up pilot projects to create a strong demand for circular services and products.
  • Circular Buildings (in Dutch): this Green Deal focuses on minimising the use and re-use of raw materials and products in the design and operation of commercial buildings;
  • Circle city (in Dutch): this Green Deal aims to support the transition to a circular and inclusive economy with regard to material cycles in the construction sector by realising a similar approach in at least five cities other than Rotterdam;

Van Afval Naar Grondstof (From Waste to Resource)

In the Netherlands, the document Van Afval Naar Grondstof (VANG) sets out policy objectives to achieve a circular economy. The VANG programme lists a number of ambitions that will bring a circular economy closer to being able to deal with waste in a different way:

  • Removing obstacles: the ambition is to remove obstacles experienced by entrepreneurs in making their production processes circular and reusing waste streams where possible;
  • Less material leaves the economy: the ambition is to visibly reduce the amount of material leaving the economy. In 2012, 9.2 Mton of material from the Netherlands was still offered to waste incinerators and landfill sites. The aim is to halve this amount in ten years’ time;
  • Better separation of household waste and comparable streams: the government’s ambition is to achieve 75% waste separation by 2020 in order to separate household waste. This ambition has been translated into concrete terms into 100 kg of residual waste per inhabitant per year;
  • The Netherlands Circular Economy Hotspot: the government’s ambition is to make the Netherlands a hotspot for the circular economy by 2020. This ambition is of a more qualitative nature and is primarily intended as a beckoning perspective.

Plastic Pact NL

One of the priorities of the aforementioned Raw Materials Agreement and the Economy Circular Implementation Programme is the implementation of the Plastic Pact. With the Plastic Pact NL, dozens of companies in the sector and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management have agreed to reduce the environmental impact of plastics and to promote circularity. With the Plastic Pact NL – in addition to existing legislation and in anticipation of the implementation of EU legislation – the parties intend to take accelerated measures to close the plastic cycle.

The Plastic Pact NL (2019) lists the concrete agreements and signatories (in Dutch).

European level

In 2015, the European Commission adopted the first action plan for the circular economy to stimulate Europe’s transition to a circular economy. In 2019, the European Commission stated that the 54 actions of the action plan had already been implemented or were in the process of being implemented (European Commission, 2019). Important policy measures are:

  • The Circular Economy Package, which contains a communication strategy and a proposal to amend parts of six EU waste directives;
  • Turning the Strategy for Plastic into a Circular Economy to change the way plastics and plastic products are designed, produced, used and recycled. It also requires all plastic packaging to be recyclable by 2030;
  • A Monitoring Framework to measure progress towards a circular economy at European and national level;
  • The Circular Economy Funding Support Platform to facilitate access to finance for circular initiatives;
  • The Eco Design Working Plan, which lays down requirements on energy use for specific product groups.