Circularity is becoming Rotterdam’s new trademark

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The linear economy, in which products are extracted, manufactured, used, and discarded, currently dominates the world. The circular economy advocates a more environmentally friendly form of production and consumption in which raw materials are kept in production cycles for extended periods of time and can be reused several times. The benefits of such an approach are numerous. Irresponsible use of resources can lead to severe consequences such as food insecurity, climate change, soil degradation, and biodiversity loss.

Dutch cities are generally praised for the high level of innovations they encourage and implement. The topic of circular economy is no exception. Rotterdam, the second-largest city in the Netherlands, has come up with an ambitious Circularity Programme that aims to completely transform the way natural resources are dealt with in the near future.

The concept of circular economy is based on nature, where everything has value and is put to good use, and waste can simply be converted into a new resource. Cities around Europe are taking major steps in order to make the best use of the limited available resources with the goal of ensuring a more sustainable future. Rotterdam’s 2019-2023 Circularity Programme titled ‘’From trash to treasure’’ reveals the steps this Dutch city intends to take in order to create a waste-free society.

Rotterdam’s ambition is to reduce the amount of main raw materials used in the city by 50% until 2030. The document offers concrete targets, as well as the tools the city intends to employ in order to reach these objectives. The building industry is in the spotlight, primarily because constriction is said to account for more than 60% of all waste in Rotterdam. The city also encourages residents and businesses to contribute by supporting or taking part in circular economy initiatives.

Arno Bonte, Alderman of Sustainability,  Air Quality and the Energy Transition stated in the document: ‘’‘The Municipality brings entrepreneurs together to see how we can jointly start projects. We facilitate the infrastructure for material depots and circular meeting places. Together with entrepreneurs, we are also looking at any laws and regulations that may block progress.’’

The city of Rotterdam and Europe’s largest Port of Rotterdam, are largely dependent on primary raw materials. Rotterdam is determined to tackle this issue through a variety of measures which include supporting new business models and raising awareness of the issue, among other things. 

Ultimately, Rotterdam plans to close material cycles and become 100% circular by 2050. The city is well aware of the fact that such a crucial change cannot happen overnight, which is why Rotterdam has defined concrete steps to take in the upcoming years.

Rotterdam’s Circularity Program includes two main pathways to achieve by 2023. They include raising awareness of circularity among Rotterdam residents and stimulating employment and economic development in the circular economy. In addition to the construction industry, another three sectors have been identified as crucial on Rotterdam’s circular economy path. These are green streams, consumer goods, and the health sector. Rotterdam’s circular economy strategy suggests enhancing the biodegradable stream, reducing food waste, and reusing green streams more.

Rotterdam has established itself as a dynamic, modern city where innovations and sustainability are always in focus. Thanks to its ambitious circular economy objectives, this Dutch city is now also positioning itself as a role model and inspiration for other cities in the Netherlands and beyond. (photo credit: pikisuperstar/Freepik)