The Dutch Circular Economy

In the new Dutch, government-agreement it is stated that the circular economy will be supported. No indications, yet, on the way how this will be done. Nevertheless an important step in the development of the Dutch Circular Economy.

OPAi took the initiative, together with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to realize a Dutch edition of the report ‘Towards a Circular Economy’. We cooperate with MVO-Nederland (CSR-NL) and a group of funding partners: Liander, Sita, VNCI, Rabo, WWF-NL, TurnToo and the ministry of Economic Affairs. This will not be a mere translation of the original report but a strong focus on the consequences for the Dutch economy including a strong vision on the transition it will take to make the big change in the oncoming years.

Last week I participated in a discussion at the ministry of Finance on enhancing sustainability in their policies, purchasing and performance. This discussion brought a lot of attention for the Circular Economy. Once again we saw how professionals from governmental agencies, companies and institutions (science) are touched by the fundaments of the circular economy. It is a perspective that brings a new way of perceiving the future and its possibilities.

Let me share some of the thoughts that I heard and came in to my mind while listening to some of the discussions. I’ll bring them point by point:

It is not about morality, it is about economic change is a strong quality of the discussions on the circular economy. It needs thinking about systemic changes in the economic system. When we are able to create a circular system, then ‘feedback-mechanisms’ will occur. Producers are not just responsible for making something reasonable good, they are responsible for the performance and the re-use of the product and its resources: social, physical and economical. So it is not about doing good or even better, it is about economic change.

Decoupling is normal, coupling is the way to go However I am not quite sure about the words and ‘slang’ quality of it, it is the way to change our way of looking. Decoupling economy and ecology has been the way we encountered the environmental problems up till now: laws, regulations and control was the basic for environmental protection. Economy and ecology were more or less enemies. At least the the economic stakeholders (producers) were responsible for all the damage that was done and the ecologists/environmentalists tried to work from the perspective of protectionism. Now this is changing and we need to rethink these perspectives. Our economic system has brought quite some quality in our lives. Now it’s the time to realize the value that the economic stakeholders can have in creating new values and quality. Producing in ways that enhance the quality of ecosystems (and their biodiversity), gain clean water, purify the air, making our lives more healthy: that is the way to go!

Problem-oriented or future-driven that is a key-issue. Most sustainability initiatives are problem oriented and bring a kind of problem-solving solutions. That strategy makes that we focus on efficiency: making things better (mostly just a bit better) instead of redesign for the future. The circular economy is a new way of working and needs redesign of our systems and products. That is future driven!

Autonomous from nature to an inclusive system In the last centuries mankind has been working on becoming autonomous from nature. Where ever we live, we create the same living conditions for ourselves. The circular economy uses much more the basics of the natural system. So we will see a development in which we need to learn (again) to live ‘inclusive’ with nature.

Small is beautiful shifts to systems change. Small steps is what we tend to like in our steps to sustainability. The governmental agency that realizes biological catering in its organization is now seen a a major step forward. But what is really needed is sustaining the core business of every organization. The circular economy offers a way to do so. It is on the systems change, the real transition and needs new paradigms in the products or policies of institutions, whether it is a governmental agency or a company or an educational institution.

Educate, educate, educate! We need to prepare ourselves and the oncoming generations to be able to work in the circular economy. That means a thorough understanding of natural systems, the ability to redesign, rethink and recreate the circular economy.

Intentions becomes conditions is a last point I would like to describe. Sustainability works with a lot of good intentions. These intentions are mostly based on ideas about the quality of live for humans and nature. Steering on intentions has been effective in the last decades. We have in the Netherlands, Europe and most of the world reasonable adequate laws and regulations to protect the environment. Though the decay is still going on. Now more and more we see that new ways are needed. We need to redesign our approach to policy-making. My perspective is that we should create the conditions that give incentives to the change: how can a government enhanced the circular economy? By asking the right question! When governments use their purchasing-power the change could be there very soon. So stop buying, start asking for performance and look for performance based contracting.

A year ago no one in Dutch politics was aware of the concept of the circular economy. Now it is one of the options for the nearby future and recognized as such. Change happens!

Circular Economy basics

At the moment we (OPAi) do quite some presentations on the Circular Economy. We do like to share some of the reactions we see and get on the issues of realisation and implementation of the Circular Economy.

Thomas Rau is well known because of his intense, creative and often unexpected vision on changes that we see. Is it about energy or resources? What can we expect to see in the near future in the economy? The development of TurnToo gives him a very good businesscase and an interesting example to see how the Circular Economy works for an entrepreneur. What happens to his public is great to observe. In some keywords:

acknowledgement: almost everybody understands that there is a resource-issue in the world;

astonishment: since not all see immediately that we do not have an energyproblem, since all were educated with the idea of an energycrisis somewhere ahead in time;

curiousity: on understanding his line of thinking that brings some major shifts in the economy: performance based transactions;

insecurity: when the audience starts to understand that he is serious about changing ownership in ‘usership’;

enthousiasm:  as soon as people see the new perspective for home, for business, for education and policies.

It results in many questions and these questions help us to  think and rethink the way we work. That is almost the most exciting of it: everyday we, at OPAi, see the impact of the approach that is the fundament of TurnToo and the Circular Economy.

Douwe Jan Joustra focusses on the systemsapproach that is the fundament of the Circular Economy. In his presentations some key-elements are basic. Douwe Jan sees three fundamental spheres that give a real understanding of the Circular Economy: ecology (symbiotic relations and closed loops), thermo-dynamics (entropy) and biology (the 3.5 blj years of innovation). This leads to the Circular Economy that has clear feedbackloops and handles the externalities. The public has a little different reactions:

accelarated learning: as the listeners start to grasp that for most of them old knowledge is coming alive. Knowledge that we gained during science classes at school, now becomes functional;

recognition: in different steps in the group: some see it instantly, others look for the real meaning;

reluctance: in accepting that we need a new perspective on the economy, sustainability and the way we have to adjust our actual systems and the difficulties that the listeners see;

change of mind: is what most listeners encounter during the examples, the circular character and the appeal to human intellect that he gives;

openess to change is what happens in the end, people start seeing the possibilities of the circular economy, the need of ‘learning by nature’ and the first ideas for changes in (own) businesscases starts.

This brings questions and discussions. We at OPAi like that. For instance: is the circular economy a self steering system? Do we need much steering by governments? Are the feedbackloops indeed so well that all (companies) will feel the consequences of their actions? We think so, but we need more and more casebased evidence to anwer these questions. The first examp[les show us that the circular economy enhances:

  • energy-efficiency;
  • product innovation;
  • cradle to cradle in companies
  • profit for the companies.

Working on the realisation of the circular economy is thrilling, creative and a strong step forward on creation of a sustainable economic system. The One Planet Architecture institute supports the change where ever we can. Want advice or support? Contact us!

Hybrid, signs of a soft revolution?

Circular Economy, the sequel part 2

When I made a tweet on: ‘is it bottom-up or do we need to talk about bottom-based?’, it brought some interesting reflections. In the Netherlands we characterize the change as the “Energetic Society”. People, individuals are not waiting anymore for initiatives by governments or companies, they start their own cooperative company on car-sharing, care, maintenance, energy-suply and other issues. It is the joint feeling of independency that is a hughe driver for these initiatives. Be independent from large companies, like the energy-companies, be independent from unreliable partners (f.i natural gaz supply from Russia) and being independent of the large financial system, that seems to be the collective feeling that brings people together.

Those, mostly local, initiatives strive for self-sufficiency but now they still need the national grid for continious energy-supply and that is the same in many domains. So organize locally, use national partners: it has characteristics of an hybrid situation.

What’s so special on these hybrid situations? Well, they are a sign of change and change needs to outgrow the old system and needs to grow to a mature new system. Let me explain a bit more:

The dominant system in energy is a centralized system: powerplants, national grids and so on. It has advantages: low prices based on scale, reliability and continious quality. It also has disadvantages: dependency, centralized price mechanisms, strongly based on traditional resources (fossil fuels) and uncontrollability for the individual customer.

The new system can be characterized as a decentralized system. This also has some advantages: local producers of energy (sun, wind, geothermal and bio), client as partner in production and consumption, local grids, autonomy. Ofcourse there are also some disadvantages: maintaining continuity in supply, need of new organisation-models and gaining the right quantities in supply.

The actual system is a hybrid solution: use the advantages of both systems, deminishing the disadvantages. One could say that it is like the change in ships: steamvessels (new) with sails (old) in the 19th and early 20th century. By the way: we see this change nowadays appearing again. In the energysystem we see the same movement: from local energyfactories in the early 20th century to a completely centralised system in the early days of the 21th century and now we turn this around again.

The hybrid situation is part of the transition: we use the good elements of the old system to compensate the first failures of the new system. It is all about reliability.

So when a change is dawning from the actual linear economy to a circular economy, we tend to look for hybrid solutions. In the Netherlands there are initiatives to create a ‘Resources Roundabout’. That sounds circular and it has the intention to be the basis of a circular system but we organise it as a new solution for the failures of the ‘old’ linear economy. The name says it already: roundabouts are not intended to change the system of logistics in trafficmanagement, it is just a solution for the vulnerability of the crossroads of lines, roads. It helps traffic streaming more efficiently and safe. Not bad but also not a fundamental change. Maybe in the long term it will evolve or adapt to the new circular system.

The most difficult part of such a transition, from linear to circular, is to find the new ways of wheeling and dealing. What’s new? We see some initatiatives that found a new way: forget ownership of the customer, pay for performance, (collective) ownership of resources, growing attention on services etc. We will need to find more and fundamental solutions in the new, circular, system. That’s what we at OPAi are working on these days: new businessmodels, new valuecreation, new systems solutions and help/advise on implementing of the new, circular, economy in businesses and organisations/institutes.

For the moment we see a lot of hybrid solutions. Don’t worry, that’s a good thing: the existing has value, new values need to be developed and such a transition doesn’t need to be a deadly revolution, better might be the evolutionairy road. I would say, we need a revolutionair evolution. Why revolutionary? Because we need speed. Speed in innovation, new businessmodels, new economic values, new contracts and everything that is part of the new circular economy.

Circular economy, the sequel

In my latest blog I elaborated some insights on the Circular Economy, let’s say some of it’s principles. This brought on the next question by Helene Finidori in the ongoing discussion on ‘revolutionary thinking on economics’ (linkedIn Group: Systems Thinking World):

“Douwe, thanks your blog. How do you see the circular aspect of finance? And the governance of “resources [as] a common good. So a “fee for use” can be introduced. This brings interesting options for financing.” I think that if we manage to express the circular economy (with its idea of replenishment if this idea does exist in your perspective, you do not mention it in your article) in a way that encompasses the finance and commons aspect of it, we will have progressed a bit… In other words, how can you describe the circular economy in a way that it fits the transition?”

This, and some other comments, made me think on these issues: how does the valuechain get it’s fundaments? Also the question on how to percieve the notions of Good and Bad came forward.

Since my focus is that  the circular economy must be seen from a systems perspective, I would suggest to skip the notion of ‘good’ and ‘bad’. These are used far to often in the sustainability debates , making it to a ‘moral’ issue. Nature and systems do not know the concept of morality, we, humans, tend to overcompensate this: we do know these morality-concepts and exagerate the use of them. Still it are notions that help ‘us’ to see what is better or worse. So a few elaborations on these issues:

Let’s start to look again to the feedbackloops in the Circular Economy and the fundamental changes they bring:

- change of ownership from consumer to producer gives a short feedbackloop. The products with poisones materials come back in their own system, products not fit for disassembly come back and bring loss of valuable resources: so innovation is to be preferred because of selfinterest for the producers;

- agreements based on product-service combinations (=performance) show the producer directly where they can anhance the quality of performance, the benefit is there immediately (as Philips saw at our office and they changed/re-arranged the lightconcept: 60% efficiency in use of electricity was achieved without loss of performance: Philips benefits, because they have less costs on electricity);

- resources keep their economic value based on the day-value of achievement: when the producers is able to use them fit for re-use, the value is kept. This is a direct value for the producer and a strong feedbackloop.

There must be more examples. But I hope that I made my point: the circular economy has more systems characteristics than the ‘old’ linear economy. That is why discussions on the linear economy focus on achieving efficiency (making things a bit better) and become very difficult. The circular economy is based on a systemsperspective, is a fundamental change (transition) and has hughe incentives for as well the producers as for the users (former: consumers).

Bad: non-efficient and non-effective, as Michael Braungart of Cradle to Cradle characterizes it. This is where we need laws and regulations, to safeguard a healthy life for all. This is not different in a linear or circular economy. This is the role of governments, our common guardian: though in many places around the world they seem to have another agenda…

good: not just efficient (because efficient is ‘less bad’), but we need to strive for effectiveness. This fits to the general definition of ‘good’: “any benefit, increase in resources, possibilities and outcomes that do not generate an externalized bad or harm”. I would say even stronger: outcomes that are benificial for healt of all people and ecology.

The externalized costs should be part of the responsability that producers have, maybe just a new meaning of the ‘polluter pays’ principle. That could be a change in governance: taxes on declining of value.

Perpetual growth? Yes, we will see growth, at least in quality of life and performance of products. The question is whether it will take more, more and more virgin resources/materials. Products have an increasing shorter lifetime of use: the old telephone worked for 40 years or more, nowadays we strive for the newest phone as soon as it is marketed with new gadgets/apps. Is this a bad thing? Yes, as long as the producers don’t care about design for disassembly and even don’t have an interest in your ‘old’ phone: why does Apple not use a TurnToo way of trading? see If they would, it will just be energy and labour as basics for the new product: both no problem. No problem? No, energy is around in overwhelming amounts, thanks to the Sun and we like to see people have labour.  So, growth will be there in terms of quality at least for the western markets and partly for the emerging markets in the BRIC-countries. The real developing economies will tend to ‘classical‘ growth, I assume. This brings the question: can we stop growth? or Do we want to stop growth? I would say that, just like in nature, mankind will keep striving for more diversity and quality of life. Are we able to adjust this proces from quantity-oriented to quality-oriented? As we know from natural processes growth will mean quantity before quality (diversity/resilience) comes in.

Does this give an answer to the stated issues? No, not really, because we (or maybe just me) are just starting to grasp what the transition to a circular economy really means. Let’s keep the discussions going!! We need to learn much, much more!

for some background publications, see:

The Circular change

We face a real transition in the economic system: from the actual ‘linear’ to a ‘circular’ system.  That brings some different needs for enhancing the change. We could wait and see, but we know from the transitiontheory that you can speed up the process, through transitionmanagement.  The change has to take place on all kinds of levels: as well as scale levels, as organisational levels. The real question is: “what do we need for speeding up this transition?” A far too complex question for one clear answer. We will need new businessmodels, new concepts of ownership, new models of value creation, new perspectives on clients and the provided performances. OPAi cooperates with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. They did excellent work on idea-development, educational materials and insights and real fundamental analysis of the possibilities and future impact of the circular economy on the European economy. Their report ‘Towards a Circular Economy’ can be found here:

Another good source of information on strategies for the Circular Economy is the report made by the Aldersgate Group, find it here: It is called ‘Resilience in the Round, seizing the growth opportunities for the Circular Economy’. It was presented at the Base conference 2012 in London on the 21th june 2012. Our managing partner, Douwe Jan Joustra, presented there, on behalf of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, his vision on the basics and governance of the Circular Economy. His slides can be found here: 

Ofcourse we learn on a daily basis of the activities in the market of TurnToo, the circular businessmodel that OPAi-partner Thomas Rau, developed and is executing right now. For some backgrounds on this company, see

This brings us to some thoughts on the circular economy that we like to share. Since we teamed up with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the Aldersgate Group, some of their insights are used also. Our principles are:

Rethink the quality of nature: use and re-use of nutrients and materials;

Rethink the financials of use of resources, all materials are used temporarely;

Rethink our energy need and supply: use the Solar-incoming energy, wind and geothermal;

Value the quality of diversity as basic element for resilience;

Redesign our economic perspective (i.g. ownership) for a performance based perspective (i.g. useability: the ‘new ownership’)

Redesign activities and products (design for disassembly)

Experiment, explore, and accept insecure results.

This brings 8 new ways of working around, that we are facing these days:

1. Design new (performancebased) businesscases that work on the essentials of the Circular Economy. It needs new perspectives but also new skills for professionals at all levels in organisations. Rethinking the relation between producer and consumer (as well private as businesses) is a creative process that needs some thinking in a counterintuitive way, or out-of-the-box. OPAi has the instruments and methodology to do this with interested clients. Also we provide, together with Greenbizz Startup, a 4 day workshop on the principles of the Circular Economy, Businessmodels and creation of Service design in relation to resource management, client relations and performancebased solutions.

2. Learning by Nature is a state of mind and a smart way to find designprinciples for (new) business and products. We see that the knowledge of fundamental principles of nature are not used on a daily basis, maybe some biomimicry (learn functional from biology). There is more: ecology on relationship and patterns, Thermodynamics on energy and ‘matter’. For a systemic way of looking at organisations, products, logistics and societal arrangements (for instance: cities);

3. Financing and rethinking values new businesscases bring new financial arrangements. For the Circular Economy the service-agreements between producer and user are key. There is more to that. New financial arrangements are also needed for the performancebased use of resources. We envision startegies that make resources a common good. So a “fee for use” can be introduced. This brings interesting options for financing.

4. Systems change and provide us with completely new perspectives on housing and offices in the building sector, as well for renovation as for new buildings. Also on office-use and comfortable living we see fundamental changes. New businesses like Car2Go, the Coffee Company, Seats2Meet, Washing and more can be seen as the frontrunners that acknowledge that new ways of business are based on providing service and performance. How to change your business?

5. Educate, Educate, Educate is an important aspect of our ork now a days. We have a close cooperation with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and we do lectures for them: business schools, webinars, conferences and in the near future a broad program for all formal and non-formal education. We see the need of professionals who rethink and redesign their way of working, individually and on company-level.

6. Scale changes because of new energy in society. However people like to have a lot of interdependencies, they also like to be independent. This independency is mostly felt in the field of energy. The creative civilian doesn’t need the oil-, gaz- and electricity companies anymore: by creating on local level their own Energy Company or Energy Service Company, they create a feeling and fundament of independency. Also projects based on cooperative car-ownership and other collaborative sharing bring new economics to live. We support this change, see businesscases and create the basics for initiators.

7. Transitionmanagement is our corebusiness. We identify the ‘next step’ or even better the ‘next leap forward’. Planning the interventions that are needed to speed up the process of change is what we do best.

8. Governance needs a redesign also. We envioned that this will be a major change, from a directive basis to a condition based approach. That means that governments as well national and local, need a new vision on their approach to their governance strategies.

We see a great transition coming. It will change the economic ‘game’ to an extend that is yet beyond belief. Feedbackloops change, responsabilities change and speaking in terms of sustainable development, this could be the key to a major shift in the relation between human, ecology and economy. Next time we will focus on this.

the Hitchhiker’s guide to the Circular Economy

Op het Nationaal Sustainability Congres 2011 organiseerden The Natural Step NL en het One Planet Architecture institute in samenwerking met DHV, een workshop over de impact en aanpak van concepten als The Natural Step, Cradle to Cradle, Biomimicry en TurnToo voor Nederland: bedrijven, overheden, onderwijs en andere organisaties en personen. Te kort natuurlijk, zo’n workshop en de belangstelling was overweldigend. Deze workshop was eenmooie stap om de onderwerpen en kansen voor verschillende spelers te identificeren. Er is nu merkbaar ruimte voor ondernemerschap en vooral leiderschap met visie op een duurzame toekomst. We krijgen samen een kans om vorm te geven aan een nieuwe, duurzame, economie. Voor de partijen die er in slagen de nieuw ontstane koppelingen te maken en samen met anderen hier vorm aan geven is er de belofte van onderscheidende business modellen en bijbehorende
De oorspronkelijke titel van dit rapport was ‘Verslag Workshop’ en naarmate het schrijven van dit rapport steeds weer nieuwe perspectieven aan het licht bracht, werd het duidelijk dat deze titel de lading al lang niet meer dekte. Na het voltooien van het rapport kwamen we tot de ontdekking dat de inhoud en vooral de ontwikkelingen rondom de Circulaire Economie steeds meer gelijkenis vertoonde met de ontwikkelingen rondom het boek ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ van Douglas Adams. Alle media en bewerkingen van dit boek volgen in grote lijnen dezelfde plot, maar wijken toch in veel details van elkaar af. Dit omdat Adams het verhaal voor elke bewerking herschreef. Belangrijke verschillen zijn vaak dat bepaalde gebeurtenissen in de verschillende bewerkingen in een andere volgorde of binnen een andere context plaatsvinden.
Dit zien de auteurs ook terug in de ontwikkelingen rondom de circulaire economie. De plot, in onze context een duurzame samenleving, blijft hetzelfde maar de manier waarop we daar gaan komen blijft onderhevig aan ontwikkelingen door innovaties, economische veranderingen, politiek klimaat en de urgentie die zich in de komende jaren rondom bepaalde deelonderwerpen (grondstofschaarste, natuurrampen, conjunctuurschommelingen) zullen manifesteren. Gebeurtenissen en feedback-loops met positieve en negatieve lading. OPAI gaat daarbij sterk uit van de mogelijkheden om de toekomst mee vorm te geven: rethink and redesign is het motto. Vooruitkijken en opnieuw beginnen, zo lijkt het. Dat is niet helemaal waar. Het opnieuw beginnen is in onze optiek vooral een zaak van herontwerpen van bestaande producten en systemen. De beschaving van de afgelopen eeuwen heeft veel goeds gebracht, de uitdaging is er nog veel meer goeds aan toe te voegen. Dat vraagt nieuwe manieren van kijken. Een omslag in denken die voor OPAi belangrijk is om tot de circulaire economie te komen is: van eigendom naar gebruik. De eindgebruiker krijgt grondstoffen in de vorm van een product, tijdelijk, in gebruik voor een bepaalde prestatie: u krijgt licht in plaats van een lamp, is daarvan een sprekend voorbeeld.

Dit rapport geeft een inkijk in de uitdagingen die een circulaire economie met zich meebrengt. De zienswijzen, acties, doelen en strategieën zullen in de komende jaren zeker veranderen maar de ‘end game’ blijft hetzelfde. Een duurzame samenleving met een circulaire economie kan alleen vorm krijgen als deze zich ontwikkelt binnen de grenzen van het systeem aarde: one planet. Met andere woorden; dat we nieuwe zienswijzen hanteren bij iedere ontwikkeling die tot doel heeft om een circulaire economie mogelijk te maken. Door deze open houding is het mogelijk om steeds meer zienswijzen en invloeden van diverse belanghebbenden in deze transitie mee te nemen. Diversiteit en flexibiliteit zijn kenmerken die nieuwe ontwikkelingen mogelijk maken en ,principieel, dat we daarbij steeds werken aan de waarde die onze acties toevoegen aan de maatschappij – sociaal, maatschappelijk, ecologisch en economisch -.
Hett rapport is samengesteld door stichting The Flexible Platform /The Natural Step NL in samenwerking met het One Planet Architecture institute (OPAi) en DHV.

opvragen van het rapport ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Circular Economy via mail:

tijdelijk ook hier te downloaden

Circulaire economie, perspectief

Een kans om onze economische toekomst te heroverwegen, zo introduceert Ellen MacArthur het rapport over circulaire economie dat deze week is verschenen. Zij nodigt de lezers uit, zich voor te stellen dat een nieuwe economie mogelijk is. Een economie waarin de goederen van morgen de middelen zijn die de vorming van een positieve spiraal realiseert, die welvaart bevordert in een wereld van eindige hulpbronnen.

Deze verandering in perspectief is belangrijk om veel van de fundamentele hedendaagse uitdagingen aan te pakken. Traditionele lineaire consumptiepatronen (‘take-make-dispose”) lopen nu aan tegen de beperkingen van de beschikbaarheid van grondstoffen. De uitdagingen worden nog verergerd door de stijgende vraag van de groeiende wereldbevolking en een steeds welvarender bevolking. Als gevolg hiervan zien we een niet-duurzaam overmatig gebruik van grondstoffen, hogere prijsniveaus en nog veel meer volatiliteit in de vele markten.

Als onderdeel van ‘onze’ strategie voor Europa 2020, heeft de Europese Commissie gekozen om op deze uitdagingen te reageren door te streven naar een economisch systeem dat aanzienlijke en duurzame verbeteringen van onze productiviteit aanjaagt, met oog voor grondstoffen. Het is ook onze keuze hoe, en hoe snel, we deze onvermijdelijke overgang willen en kunnen realiseren. Goed beleid biedt op korte en lange termijn economische, sociale en ecologische voordelen. Maar succes in het vergroten van onze algemene veerkracht hangt uiteindelijk af van het vermogen van de private sector om deze uitdaging op te pakken en het winstgevend ontwikkelen van relevante nieuwe business modellen.

De Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) schetst in het rapport een duidelijk beeld: onze lineaire ‘take-make-dispose’ aanpak leidt tot schaarste, volatiliteit, en prijsstelling niveaus voor grondstoffen die onbetaalbaar zijn voor productie en de kwaliteit van onze economie.

Als een overtuigende antwoord op deze uitdagingen pleit het rapport voor het realiseren van een circulaire economie. Het biedt een breed palet aan praktijkvoorbeelden, het geeft een stevig kader en een aantal leidende principes om dat te doen. Door middel van analyse van een aantal specifieke (praktijk-)voorbeelden geeft het onderzoek ook directe, en relatief gemakkelijk te implementeren, mogelijkheden. Een schatting op basis van de huidige technologieën en trends, van de netto materiële kostenbesparende voordelen van een meer circulaire benadering, behelst meer dan USD 600 miljard dollar per jaar in 2025, na aftrek van de materiaalkosten opgelopen tijdens de ‘reverse-cycle’ aanpak. MacArthur signaleert daarbij een verschuiving van kopen en verkopen naar ‘performance’. Het is niet meer eigendom dat telt, de gevraagde en geleverde prestatie staat centraal. Het initiatief van Thomas Rau, OPAi en anderen wordt gezien als een zeer sterk model. Het ontwerpen van producten voor de regeneratie van grondstoffen en het leveren van prestatie, kent ook positieve secundaire effecten: een golf van innovaties en werkgelegenheid in groeisectoren van de economie.
Veel bedrijfsleiders geloven dat de innovatie-inspanning van deze eeuw zal zijn om de welvaart te bevorderen in een wereld van eindige hulpbronnen. Het bedenken van antwoorden op deze uitdaging leidt tot concurrentievoordeel.

Het rapport van de EMF heeft een Europees perspectief, alhoewel ik denk dat de lessen van belang zijn op een mondiaal niveau. Het zal niet mogelijk zijn voor de opkomende economieën van de ontwikkelde wereld het niveau van de levensstandaard te delen en voor toekomstige generaties te bieden, tenzij we drastisch veranderen de manier waarop we nu werken in de wereldwijde economie.

Het rapport biedt een frisse kijk op wat een transitiepad naar een circulaire economie op wereldschaal zou kunnen zijn. Het is tijd om ‘mainstream’ van de circulaire economie als een geloofwaardig, krachtig en duurzaam antwoord op onze huidige en toekomstige groei en grondstofgebruik neer te zetten.

Ellen MacArthur nodigt u uit om na te gaan op welke wijze u (waar en hoe) kunt bijdragen aan een nieuw tijdperk van economische kansen.

Nederlandse bedrijven werken ook aan ‘de omslag’ en worden ook gepresenteerd op de bijbehorende website: TurnToo, Oneplanet architecture institute en bijvoorbeeld ook Except. Zie hier

OPAi Douwe Jan Joustra, is aanspreekpunt voor de activiteiten van de Ellen MacArthur Foundation in Nederland. Neem voor meer informatie contact met hem op.


The Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) celebrates it’s one year anniversary these days. It seems much longer, but it is the exciting quantity and quality of work of the EMF that gives that impression. EMF stands for a new, circular, economy based on the principles of Cradle to Cradle. So it is one of the potential founders of the new economy and that makes is more exciting then the IMF that stands for the ‘old school economy’.
This week Ellen MacArthur will be in the Netherlands for the opening of the new building of the National Institute of Ecologic Research (NIOO). It’s build as much as possible in a Cradle to Cradle way and we look forward to the opening and first visit to this beautifull new building.
We will have a meeting with Ellen MacArthur and Ken Webster on the perspectives of TurnToo, the meaningfull way of working in a circular economy. Also we will discuss the project that OPAi runs on behalf of Agentschap NL, ‘learning by nature’.

One of the public activities of the EMF is the Evening with Alex Steffen and Ellen MacArthur, Royal Geographical Society, London. October 20th, 7-10pm

“Alex Steffen, a designing optimist, lays out the blueprint for a successful century.”
-The New York Times

Alex Steffen, leading futurist and editor of the World Changing bestseller, will be giving an evening lecture at the Royal Geographical Society on October 20th. His talk will focus on innovative business practices and positive 21st century perspectives and there will be a follow up Q&A session with Ellen.

More detail about this lecture and Alex’s work at
the EMF-website