Category 18 April 2019

From Start to Start: the Dutch ‘Circle Economy’ Platform

The Netherlands has recently introduced ‘Circle Economy’, an open member platform striving towards a circular economy and providing targeted support to organisations. The non-for-profit platform is also involved in a new cooperative programme initiated by the Dutch Government, opting for a “Realisation of Acceleration towards a Circular Economy (RACE)”. 

The challenge

The Netherlands, because of its dependency on foreign markets for the supply of raw materials, has a strong interest in an effective and fair distribution of raw materials worldwide and keeping them in the ‘loop’ as long as possible.

The measure

‘Circle Economy’ is a non-profit open platform that aims to accelerate the transition to a circular economy. Its objective pertains to providing support to companies, organisations and individuals to start circular projects. By the end of 2014, the platform had about 50 member companies, comprised mainly of industry and technical centres & experts (including Ecofys, Deloitte, van Gansewinkel Groep, TNO, among others). CE currently has about 16 employees and works in close collaboration with its advisory board. The Stichting Doen (“Do-Foundation”) and the National Postcode Lottery are sponsors of Circle Economy.

Besides networking, Circle Economy offers each of its members a “Circle Scan process”: the goal is to provide support to the innovation competences of firms and to find a circular project that has a high potential for systemic change and value added for the member, and help secure the launching resources to get the project going. This decision support tool includes the following steps:

Kick-off meeting: At the kickoff meeting the member's current situation and desired goals are discussed;System analysis: Time for detailed ‘homework’ on the member company and its industry, main activities, impacts, and challenges;Opportunity mapping: The most relevant information about the member is mapped to find potential opportunities for circular projects,Circle Scorecard: Together with the member the potential projects on the Circle Scorecard are evaluated to pick the most beneficial for which to move forward;Next steps: Depending on the project selected, strategic planning on the next steps can range from a roundtable to business case development.

In persuing this mission, Circle Economy has become a partner in the Dutch ‘RACE’ coalition: Realisation of Acceleration towards a Circular Economy. The coalition aims at positioning the Netherlands as a frontrunner in setting up synergies and creating a circular economy. This unique collaboration between government, NGOs and businesses enables multidisciplinary innovation, combining technological progress, social balance and improvements and system innovation. The RACE programme is part of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment’s “From Waste to Resource programme”, and in addition to setting up a public-private partnership aims at defining and stimulating circular design; studying and stimulating high-quality reuse; making an inventory of (perceived) barriers; stimulating and accelerating new value chains; creating a portfolio of circular project examples; raising awareness of the public around the topic of circular economy and involving young people in the transition towards a circular economy.

Lessons learnt

The study “Opportunities for a circular economy in the Netherlands” by TNO (2013) provided detailed recommendations on how to successfully strive for a circular economy. The creation of a national circular economy programme was one of them, and RACE is the answer to these discussions. The programme itself started recently, so no in-depth lessons learnt are yet available.

Further deployment

The Netherlands is among the frontrunners in introducing innovative platforms with a specific view on a Circular Economy. Both the Circle Economy platform and the RACE programme are novel developments that are being experimented locally and await full-scale implementation. They are therefore estimated to be 4 on the GML scale.


Circle EconomyRACE Programme