National strategies - Netherlands

The Dutch program for circular economy aims to fully implement circularity in this country by 2050. The interim goal is to reduce the use of primary raw materials (minerals, fossil fuels and metals) by half by 2030. This means that by 2050, raw materials will be used effectively without any harmful emissions to the environment. In the event that it will be necessary to use primary raw materials, they will be obtained in a sustainable manner so as to completely eliminate their negative effects on the environment and society. The products and materials will be designed in such a way that they can be re-used maximizing their value in the economic cycle.

The implementation of these goals is based on three basic pillars:

  1. Raw materials in existing supply chains are used optimally.
    The increase in raw material productivity will lead to a reduction in the demand for them in existing supply chains.
  2. In cases where primary raw materials are needed, fossil, critical and non-fossil raw materials are replaced by sustainably produced, renewable and generally available.
    In addition to biomass, generally available raw materials are those that the natural environment needs (iron, silicon, carbon, magnesium, sodium, potassium, calcium, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, sulphur, hydrogen). Using them allows to reduce the negative ecological effects, prepare the economy for the next years and make it independent from the import of fossil materials.
  3. New production methods are being developed, new products are designed, new ways of consumption are promoted.
    This leads to the creation of new supply chains, which give an additional stimulus to meet the basic objectives of the strategy.

The transition process of the Dutch economy from a linear to a circular model


Five areas of intervention have been designated, in which the government influences the transformation towards a circular economy:

should enable testing of new technologies while reducing the risk level for the environment, economy and society to a minimum. Legislation can also serve as an incentive for innovation. By gradually increasing the standards, companies will be forced to innovate and use sustainable materials and technologies.

are designed to address the problem of market failures and encourage the transform into a circular economy through targeted price incentives and regulations. This intervention aims to promote the demand for recyclates and biotechnology-based materials to stimulate circular innovations and support the implementation of circular business models, thereby strengthening domestic and international sales markets for this type of raw materials.

Investments in circular products and services differ from those created in the linear economic model by the risk profile, the different depreciation periods and the cost-benefit ratio. Therefore, there is a need for detailed insight into the possible benefits of supporting circular business models, which in the next step may lead to an increase in the scale of their financing.

the development of science and the dissemination and exchange of knowledge are essential for the transition to the closed-loop model. The purpose of the intervention is to provide knowledge to entities that play a central role in society and the economy to support achievement of programme’s three strategic objectives.

to implement a circular economy in the Netherlands, it is essential that a similar transformation takes place at the European and global level. Value chains and waste flows are international and although use or consumption may take place in the Netherlands or the EU, in many cases the products and materials used do not end up in the place of origin. This is particularly important nowadays when the legal and economic conditions of production and consumption are established at the European level and Dutch enterprises are increasingly operating internationally.

Therefore, the success of the Dutch circular economy strategy requires action at several levels. At European Union level, the introduction of a legal and economic framework, appropriate conditions and incentives should be encouraged so that their implementation at national level can be as effective as possible. At the same time, it is necessary to understand what impact the introduction of a circular economy in the Netherlands and the EU may have on other countries, especially low income ones.

Multilateral cooperation focused on mutual interactions further strengthens the action of the above areas of intervention. The transition phase between the two economy models also plays a role in the selection of appropriate areas of intervention.

The program focuses on five priorities, which are important for the Dutch economy, have a major impact on the environment, are characterized by the already existing social movement aimed at the transition to the circular economy model, correspond to the priorities set by the European Commission.

These five priorities are:

  1. Biomass and food
  2. Plastics
  3. Manufacturing industry
  4. The construction sector
  5. Consumer goods

Strategic goals have been developed for each priority in the form of specific endeavors. This way each priority has its own dynamics, stakeholders and regulations. Therefore, the presented approach varies for each of them.

Biomass and food

  1. Optimizing the use of biomass and food by closing the cycle. All raw materials, semi-finished products and products must remain in circulation as long as possible, retaining as much value of the products as possible. This requires optimizing the use of biomass, i.a. by fighting food wastage, sustainable fertilizer use and efficient incineration;
  2. Limiting the use and substitution of fossil resources by sustainable biomass production;
  3. Development and implementation of new production and consumption methods leading to improvements in the process of using biomass and food.


  1. Plastic products should be designed to allow reuse and recycling while maintaining the highest possible value in the business cycle.
  2. Plastic materials are used in value chains as optimally as possible, which will reduce the need for raw materials and prevent "leakages" in the system.
  3. Optimization of plastic reuse, through large-scale use of plastic recyclates and innovative plastics (also biodegradable).

Manufacturing industry

  1. The transition from key raw materials, such as metals and minerals, to generally available raw materials.
  2. Increainge the efficiency and scale of metals and minerals reusage at all stages of the relevant value chains.
  3. Development of new methods of production / consumption.
  4. Increase in public and private demand for circular products and services.
  5. The transition from fossil materials to renewable ones.

Construction sector

  1. The construction sector should use (mainly) renewable materials.
  2. Optimizing the use of materials throughout the entire life cycle of a building (preserving value, saving costs, maximizing reuse possibilities, less impact on the environment).
  3. Minimization of CO2 emissions by the construction sector, during construction and operation.
  4. Proactive response to changes in society, as well as the demand of the private sector and consumers.

Consumer goods

  1. By 2020, the annual amount of residual household waste will amount to a maximum of 100 kg per capita; by 2025, a maximum of 30 kg per capita.
  2. By 2022, the amount of residual waste of enterprises, organizations and administrations, similar to those coming from households, will be halved (in comparison to 2012).
  3. By 2025, citizens and businesses will use consumer goods in a way that allows them to remain in the economic cycle.