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Circular Economy

Circular cities and municipalities

Metropolitan areas offer a perfect opportunity for a circular economy. They cover only a small part of the land area, but almost all the raw materials are consumed there. This is one of the reasons why more and more cities and towns around the world are taking the initiative to develop in a circular way.

An example of this is the City Deal Circular City in which 9 cities, 3 ministries and 3 knowledge partners work together to achieve fully circular cities by 2050, similar to the ambition expressed in the government-wide Circular Economy programme. A few examples are explained below.


The municipality of Amsterdam wants to make the city circular as soon as possible. In 2015, Amsterdam was the first city in the world to commission a study into the opportunities for a circular economy. The study showed that the transition will result in a cleaner environment, more work and a stronger economy. In 2019, the city council set itself clear ambitions:

  • 2025: 65% of all household waste must be separable for reuse.
  • 2030: 50% less use of primary raw materials than at present.
  • 2050: Fully circular economy.

The report ‘Building blocks for the new strategy Amsterdam Circular 2020 – 2025’ describes the strategy for a circular economy in Amsterdam for the period 2020-2025. The report describes 17 developments to make the value chains construction, biomass and food and consumer goods circular. Programmes and background information can be found at www.amsterdam.nl/circulair.


Rotterdam has declared that by 2030 circularity should be the yardstick for citizens, businesses and policy makers. Rotterdam will become a living lab in which they will experiment, pioneer and secure their successes. The municipality wants to position the city and port as a circular hotspot.

In order to achieve this, the Rotterdam Circular 2019 – 2023 programme has been drawn up. This document describes two routes that the city wants to follow and the tasks, opportunities and actions in the four key sectors: construction, food flows, consumer goods and healthcare. The programme is based on the raw materials research carried out by research bureau Metabolic (2018).


Haarlemmermeer was the first Dutch municipality to become a member of the Circular Economy 100 platform of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. This platform brings together leading international companies and governments to accelerate the transition to a circular economy. The aim of Haarlemmermeer is to become and remain the circular hotspot of the Netherlands.

The Programme on Sustainability 2015-2018 shows how the transition from the linear ‘now’ to a circular future is being worked on step by step. A concrete project of the municipality is the construction of the district Lincolnpark. This district has buildings with multiple functions. In which it is not only pleasant to live and work, but which also generate energy and promote biodiversity. From the outset, sustainable solutions for mobility have been considered, and waste is seen as a raw material that can be reused.

More information on the website of Haarlemmermeer.


Since 2008, the municipality of Venlo has been following the cradle-to-cradle principles for its policy. These principles are in line with circularity. For example, the municipality has built the municipal office cradle-to-cradle. Almost all components can be disassembled and reused, creating a cycle of materials. A lot of greenery ensures a pleasant and healthy workplace. A green facade purifies the air and provides natural ventilation. Large windows and solar panels make optimum use of the sun.

More information on the website of Venlo.

Want to read more?

For more examples see the page of the Ellen Macarthur Foundation about circular cities.