When waste is not waste | Blogs
Blog post | 05-10-2021 | Consulate General in Toronto
In the circular economy, there will be no more waste: so how will it be managed? The answer, more simply, is to drive and transform the waste of today into the raw materials and products of tomorrow. The fifth episode of the “Making the Circular Economy Real” webinar series provided a high-level to granular overview of circular initiatives at the political and business level in the Netherlands and Canada.
Consul General Anne Le Guellec opened the session by stressing the importance of promoting a more sustainable future. Waste plays a major role in all aspects of a product’s life cycle. The introduction of the circular economy has changed our view of waste. It offers businesses and governments sustainable opportunities.
Waste management from a political point of view
Marieke van der Werf, partner at Dutch public affairs agency Dröge & van Drimmelen, gave an overview of waste management from a political perspective. What we call the “new economy” means investing in improving the environment instead of making “less bad” investments that focus only on end-of-pipe solutions. How do you achieve this when developing public policies?
The Netherlands put the waste problem on the agenda in the 1980s. This was followed by research inspired by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in 2010 on how value and jobs could be derived from waste . These figures were the start of the circular policy. In a commodity contract all stakeholders were involved, the so-called Dutch “polder model”. In addition, ambitious political objectives have been set: 50% less raw materials by 2030 and 100% circular by 2050. An annual roadmap and sectoral plans have been derived from these objectives.
In the Netherlands, local governments have set up programs to bring together entrepreneurs, mainly SMEs, to work together on circular solutions. Many projects have been launched and pacts have been made. The Netherlands has learned a lot, but as a next step a generic policy is needed to step up these initiatives and develop a market for recycled materials, in order to become a circular nation.
Upcycling in the Dutch town of Almere
In the Netherlands, the municipalities are responsible for the collection of household waste. The construction of a recycling platform is one of the instruments that municipalities can use. The Dutch city of Almere aims to achieve 75% waste sorting and less than 100 kg of residual waste per inhabitant per year. The UpcycleCentrum plays a major role in achieving these goals.
Hede Razoky, who works as an account manager at UpcycleCentrum, said the center makes the circular economy visible and tangible in different ways. The building itself is a unique modular recycling platform. The building is made from recycled materials and is completely self-sufficient. In the UpcycleCentrum, three workspaces are reserved for rotating entrepreneurs who focus on sustainability. Entrepreneurs use the waste collected to make new products. In addition, the integrated experience center presents the circular economy to the public. Everything, from the floor to the furniture, is recycled.
The goal for the future is to recycle even more and to prepare a project for other governments interested in building similar recycling centers.
From recycling to the producer of raw materials
When we think of recycling, we easily think of plastics, glass and paper. But what about mattresses? The Dutch company RetourMatras has developed an automatic process for dismantling old mattresses, transforming a pure recycling company into a producer of raw materials. COO Chico van Hemert said the four recycling facilities the company currently owns can dismantle 1.5 million mattresses per year, in 50 seconds each.
Even if there is no legislation, the municipalities were the first adapters and deliver the mattresses to RetourMatras. 15% of mattresses turn into waste, due to poor collection. Over 90% of all material can have a second life, diverting material from landfill. In terms of recycling PU foam, the company has adapted to new technological advances, moving from mechanical recycling to exploring chemical recycling. They work with the entire production chain, from new production to sale (in partnership with IKEA Netherlands and Renewi) to collecting waste and transforming it into raw materials that can be reused for new production.
In the Netherlands, RetourMatras saves around 48 kg of CO2 emissions per mattress and thus works for a truly sustainable future.
Start with the design of sustainable products
IKEA is working on its circular transformation. By 2030, the ambition is to become climate positive and regenerate resources while growing the IKEA business. IKEA Canada is guided by its positive strategy for people and the planet. Melissa Barbosa, Head of Sustainability at IKEA Canada, said the company strives for zero waste and 100% circularity.
This circular transformation affects all areas of activity, starting with the design of more sustainable products. IKEA has noticed that customers prioritize quality and value over volume. IKEA also supports customers with resale programs for IKEA items, which the company in turn resells or gives to community partners. In terms of circularity, it is about extending the life of a product. In Ontario, IKEA has started a program with Furniture Bank, in which old IKEA mattresses are reused to help families in need in affordable housing situations.
Circular transformation means a lot of innovation, testing and testing and being flexible as a business, but it is necessary to complete the transformation and achieve the ambitious goals IKEA has set for itself.
– With files from Kartik Moorthy
Want to watch the full episode?
To view the full recording of the webinar, please click here.
The webinar “Food Processing and the Circular Economy” is part of the series “Making the Circular Economy Real”, organized by the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Toronto and Canada Circular Hotspot. The main objectives of the webinar series are to increase participants’ knowledge, expand networks, show the circular economy in the real world and inspire the development of new circular economy projects in Ontario and beyond. across Canada.
Please find below the recordings of previous webinars in the series ‘Making the Circular Economy Real’:
Are you interested in finding out more about Dutch-Canadian cooperation or connecting with Dutch parties, for inspiration, networking or doing business? We would love to hear from you, so please do not hesitate to contact our Economics team at [email protected]