The Dutch have set their ambitions high: Creating a completely circular economy by the year 2050. To set this in motion the Dutch Government has initiated a multi-stakeholder Transition Agenda, to transition from a linear to a circular economy. And Enviu is taking part in discussing and writing the Plastics policy.
The Transition Agenda
In September 2016 the Dutch Parliament launched the ‘Netherlands Circular in 2050’ program. Right now in a mostly linear economy most products are made to be thrown away. This wastes already limited resources and pollutes our environment. It is high time to build a new system.
In this program five sectorial chains are addressed: Biomass & food, plastics, the manufacturing industry, construction, and consumer goods. These all have a big market and impact potential in the Netherlands.
To transition to this circular economy a multi-stakeholder platform was set up to write a Transition Agenda with input from the public, private, and civil sector. Enviu is one of these stakeholders. Together with the government, knowledge institutions, businesses, and civil society organizations we researched and discussed which actions every sector can take to form this into a concrete policy.
So, we all agree on one thing: We need to go from a linear to a circular economy. The question however remains, how are we going to realize this transition?
The need for disruptive new forces
As Enviu, we are certain about what needs to happen. The future is green, but the present is still gray. For example, if we look at the plastics chain, the industry is gasping for disruptive new forces. The established industry is taking marginal steps, which is very necessary. But the current established order needs to be challenged to close their production loops. Recycling is a step in the right direction, but we believe it is not the sole solution. Recycling costs energy, and in its current performance state degrades materials.
What we need is to rethink how we make, package, consume, and deliver products. This transition calls for disruptive innovations that can wake up the established order. A critical, ambitious, and new generation of entrepreneurs that prove it is possible. The role of start-ups is essential as they are more flexible and freer to move and innovate than the larger established industry. And lucky for us, they already exist.
Take for example Seepje, a bio-based detergent. It comes from the Sapindus mukorossi fruit from Nepal and is packaged in old compostable cartons of milk. Or Soda Stream, which facilitates your own soda production at home so that no liquid needs to be transported and the need for single-use plastic bottles is reduced. The Dutch market is stocked with these kinds of groundbreaking initiatives!
Enviu bridging the gap between start-ups and the larger system
The problem is however that these kinds of initiatives often have trouble to reach scale and connect to the larger system. Enviu wants to change this. As part of our Plastics Program we scout and curate these start-ups, scale them, and connect them to the larger system so that they can compete or work together with the established industry.
In this way, we act as an innovation agent, bridging the gap between the small-scale innovations and the large-scale industry. All to maximize their impact and so change the system to work in favor of people and planet!