Moving Towards Circularity in Western Europe

April 16th 2020 - 13:00

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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

Laura Birkman is a Senior Strategic Analyst at HCSS where she focuses on issues related to climate security, sustainable development, and defense. She currently leads HCSS work on Water, Peace and Security (WPS), an award winning partnership that looks to pioneer the development of innovative tools and services that help identify and address water-related security risks. She is also a member of the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS).