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Circular Economy

Circulaire provinces and regions

The flow of raw materials often crosses municipal and national borders. This often requires a regional approach to promote circularity. The following are examples of the Brussels Region, the Kalundburg industrial area in Denmark, the Päijät-Häme region in Finland, the Valley and Veluwe Water Board, the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area and the Northern provinces in the Netherlands.

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Region Brussels (Belgium)

The Brussels-Capital Region has set up the Regional Economic Circular Programme, known as the Be Circular campaign. The aim of the Brussels government is to propose a credible alternative that will stimulate a local economy that meets the needs of its citizens. The businesses of the region are at the heart of this initiative. The programme aims to help them reduce their costs, grow, innovate, recruit and start their transition to an economic model that has a low ecological footprint, creates local jobs and contributes to the quality of life in Brussels.

More information on the website of Be Circular (in Dutch or French).

Kalundborg (Denmark)

Kalundborg has become one of the most frequently cited examples of ‘industrial symbiosis’. The project is a partnership between nine public and private companies in Kalundborg that has been seeking a circular approach to production since 1972. The most important principle is that a residue from one company becomes a source for another, which benefits both the environment and the economy. Examples are heat, fly ash (from which plaster is made) and hay (which is converted into ethanol).

More information on the Kalundborg Symbiosis website.

Päijät-Häme region (Finland)

The vision of the Päijät-Häme region is to become a “successful resource-efficient region” by 2030. The region published a roadmap to define a vision and objectives involving stakeholders such as regional and municipal authorities, higher education institutions, a regional development company, and private and public companies. The Päijät-Häme Roadmap has five main themes: closed cycles of technical flows; sustainable enterprise; energy self-sufficiency; shared economy; and steering and demonstrating innovative solutions for the circular economy.

More information on the website of the Päijät-Häme region.

Water Board Valley and Veluwe

As a signatory to the raw materials agreement, the Union of Water Boards has stated that the water boards aim to close their cycles by 2050 and to convert 100% of the Dutch wastewater into valuable products. After successfully realizing their climate- and energy ambitions for 2020, the Union of Water Boards is now exploring the possibilities for achieving full energy neutrality in the coming period (Unie van Waterschappen, 2020).

As a specific example, the Vallei en Veluwe Water Board presented its circular economy policy framework in 2018. In doing so, they want to offer employees and partners a perspective for action and make a commitment to make an effort. These efforts have been given concrete form with, among other things, the ambitions to achieve:

  • To have completed four circular model projects by 2021.
  • From 2025 onwards, conduct 100% procurement, tenders included.
  • From 2025 onwards, to make all their long-term choices 100% circular.
  • From 2025 onwards, use 50% less primary raw materials.
  • In 2050, actively converting 100% of sewage water into valuable raw materials.

More information in the policy framework of the Vallei en Veluwe Water Board (2018) (in Dutch).

Amsterdam Metropolitan Area (Netherlands)

The Amsterdam Metropolitan Area (MRA) is a joint venture between the provinces of Noord-Holland and Flevoland, 32 municipalities and the Amsterdam Transport Region. The MRA aims to grow into a region where waste of raw materials and energy are a thing of the past and products are eligible for maximum reuse. Circular commissioning and circular procurement are important pillars in this respect.

The MRA participants purchase approximately € 4 billion a year. As early as 2022, the MRA partners want to purchase at least 10% of their products, goods and services in a circular manner. The target of 50% circular procurement by 2025 is then an intermediate target for fully circular commissioning.

More information can be found on the page of the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area (in Dutch).

Northern Netherlands

The provinces of Drenthe, Friesland and Groningen have the ambition to become the greenest region in the Netherlands. They argue that circular principles fit in seamlessly with the existing northern economy, now that more and more investments and green activities are coming on stream there. Raw material flows from strong chains such as agriculture, chemicals, construction and waste are used for ‘bio-based’ products and activities. This offers environmental benefits and business opportunities. That is why the Northern Netherlands integrates circular economy into all its innovation policy. Industry and knowledge institutions work together to build up knowledge about the circular economy.

As a first step, the provinces, together with the KNN and Metabolic, have made an extensive material flow analysis in which the opportunities for the circular economy are identified (in Dutch).

More information can be found on the website of the North Netherlands Partnership.