Moving Towards Circularity in Western Europe

April 16th 2020 - 13:00

New paper out now! Download here.

As climate change accelerates and global trade flows become more volatile, European countries grapple with their resource dependencies and try to become more self-sufficient. In light of developments such as the EU Green Deal, the Netherlands continues the path towards closing its consumption and production cycles, aiming to achieve a circular economy by 2050. However, raw material flows and production chains do not stop at the Dutch border. A truly circular economy is a global challenge that requires joint efforts at bilateral and supranational levels.

This report provides a quick scan of the content, direction, and motivations of current circular economy and material resource policies of the Dutch neighboring regions and countries: the European Union, Flanders (Belgium), France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. The analysis also highlights the different interpretations these countries have of the concepts ‘circular economy’ and ‘resource efficiency’, and identifies areas for cross-border cooperation with the Netherlands.

We find that economic security, competitiveness, and climate considerations are the most common drivers of circular economy ambitions in all countries under analysis. While national emphases have previously differed, all countries are now streamlining their circular material resource approaches with the EU, more often than not taking into account entire life cycles. Comparing the countries’ approaches provides useful lessons and takeaways for the Netherlands in improving its current circular economy strategy.

The key takeaways for the Netherlands are the following:

  • Further expand cooperation with other countries and position itself as an international player ahead of the curve on circular economy;
  • Take producer responsibility into account, and work towards transforming consumption patterns as a whole;
  • Further incentivize the private sector toward prioritizing regenerative design and resource reuse in their business models;
  • Create a common monitoring and evaluation mechanism for EU countries to better align approaches and track progress.

Download the paper here

Esther Chavannes is a Strategic Analyst at HCSS, primarily focusing on topics where security, politics and law intersect. Most recently she conducted research into the ethical challenges of using Robotic and Autonomous Systems in a military context. Apart from emerging technologies in the Defense sector, she works on security challenges in Southeast Asia, regulatory frameworks of civil technology in the EU, and right-wing political violence in the digital age.
Laura Birkman is a Senior Strategic Analyst at HCSS where she leads a range of projects in the field of security and defense. Before joining HCSS, she worked as Principal and Senior Consultant at Ecorys, an international research and consulting firm, where she helped establish the Security and Justice unit and focused on topics related to civil protection, crisis management, and innovation. Among other things, Laura led advisory and support services related to the building of a “Community of Users in Secure, Safe and Resilient Societies”, a European Commission initiative focused on reducing fragmentation and increasing impact of EU funded security research.