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Circular Economy

Circular businesses

Circular business show how circular business models work in practice. Front-running examples of circular businesses are start-ups, but several SME’s, Multinationals and semi-public organizations show inspiring best practices.



FLOOW2 is the first business-to-business sharing marketplace that enables companies and institutions to share overcapacity of equipment, knowledge and skills of personnel. Users can register on the platform for free and participants pay a subscription to advertise their equipment on the platform, providing a revenue stream for FLOOW2.

More information on the website of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Black Bear

Globally over one billion car tires per year are produced. At the same time roughly one billion car tires are discarded. Both the production of car tires and the end-of-life processing (usually incineration) are very polluting. Black Bear Carbon has developed an innovative process to almost completely reclaim all resources from old tires.

Nederland Circulair!, p24 (in Dutch).

Dutch Spirit

Workwear worn for instance in health care or cleaning is used on average for only one and a half year. Recycling is usually impossible because the fabric is an inseparable weave of polyester and cotton. Dutch Spirit developed a new fabric called Inspire that consists solely of 100% recyclable polyester. To guarantee full recycling Dutch Spirit also founded the ‘Open Platform Circular Workwear’.

Nederland Circulair!, p28 (in Dutch).



Turntoo, founded by architect Thomas Rau, worked with Philips to purchase ‘light as a service’. The end result was a bespoke ‘pay-per-lux’ intelligent lighting system to fit the requirements of the space, at a manageable price. Philips retain control over the items they produce, enabling better maintenance, reconditioning and recovery of materials.

More information on the website of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Delta Development Group

Delta Development Group has developed Park 20|20 in Haarlemmermeer, a commercial area where office buildings incorporate as many circular principles as possible. The construction phase already planned ahead for disassembly, so that building materials can be reused.

To capitalize the residual value of these materials producers and suppliers are necessary that are willing to take these materials back. To ensure this Delta Development Group involved them from the start.

Park 20|20 also knows many lease agreements, for instance for lighting and elevators. This provides producers with the opportunity to optimize residual value and long term maintenance, leading to better quality and lower prices.

ABN AMRO, 2015, p25-27 (in Dutch).


Scrap paper is becoming increasingly scarce and used toilet paper cannot be recycled. WEPA therefore produces toilet paper from various local sources such as silvergrass and drink cartons. As a result, WEPA created local cycles in cooperation with farmers, municipalities and suppliers.

Nederland Circulair!, p28 (in Dutch).

more information can be found on the website of WEPA.



Philips Medical Systems makes appliances such as MRI-scans. Philips has an active policy to retain used products and sell them in the second hand market after remanufacturing and refurbishment. This allows them to not only earn from products in the second hand market, but also to guarantee product quality and therefore manage its corporate brand and reputation. If second hand products are lost out of sight and not maintained properly, Philips cannot guarantee its quality.

ING Economics Department, 2015, p14 & p42.


Vanderlande is the global market leader in baggage handling systems for airports, and sorting systems for parcel and postal services. The company is also a leading supplier of warehouse automation solutions. Together with cradle-to-cradle founder Michael Braungart, Vanderlande has developed a circular conveyor belt. This Blueveyor is designed for disassembly and consists of fewer components, leading to less use of resources.

ABN AMRO, 2015, p25-27 (in Dutch).


Under the flag of project Net-Works Interface processes old fishing nets to raw materials for new carpets. Interface pays local coastal communities in the Philippines and Cameroon per kilogram of old fishing nets extracted from the sea bed. Next to replacing virgin fossil materials for the production of carpet, Net-Works provides an impuls to local economies and eliminates the danger of ropes and lines for underwater life. Interface works together with thread manufacturer Aquafil and environmental organization Zoological Society of London. Since 2013 local fishermen have collected almost 70,000 kilograms of fishing nets.

Nederland Circulair!, p18 (in Dutch).

Semi-public: Vitens (The Netherlands)

Vitens is the largest drinking water company in The Netherlands. Annually Vitens produces 350 million cubic metres of drinking water, and produces 60,000 tonnes of by-products, such as calcium, iron and humic acid. The semi-public company paid approximately 1.8 million euros per year to eliminate this as waste. These by-products, however, are valuable inputs for other sectors. By changing the production process waste has become a product; for instance, Vitens now produces and sells humic acid as a soil enhancer for agri-business.

Nederland Circulair!, p10 (in Dutch).

Further reading

Read more about frontrunners in the circular economy.