When we initiated the Netherlands Circular Hotspot (NLCH) campaign back in 2016, along with Compazz, Delta Development, and SER, our goal was not only to position the Netherlands as an international frontrunner in all things circular, but to clear the way for other countries to take up the torch and collectively light the way for a global, circular economy.
By no means did we lay an exclusive claim to the Circular Hotspot title, and so we are eager to welcome our neighbors in Luxembourg into the (closed) loop as they showcase their own progress throughout the coming days!
Resourceful by necessity, circular by design
“The Netherlands is an ideal country for experiments or pilots, which is why the transition to a circular economy is such a natural fit.” Guido Braam, Initiator of NLCH
Necessity is the mother of invention, and the Dutch have a long-standing history of proving just how true the saying goes. As a nation that largely sits below sea level (and gradually sinking, too!), the Netherlands have had to turn to flood control strategies that go beyond the traditional levee and found opportunities in the most challenging of places.
But if innovation is indeed the key to reshaping the world, necessity cannot be alone in breeding creativity — something the Dutch understand well. Optimistic, entrepreneurial, and quick to adapt, they were and continue to be in a unique position to lead the global transition to a circular economy, especially in light of the knowledge they have accumulated over the past few years on circular solutions.
And so they did.
A circular springboard
NLCH rallied thought-, sector-, and industry leaders to outline a visionary future for our global economy through an energizing compilation of testimonials, opinion pieces, and interviews. To better illustrate this vision, the campaign also set up the Circular Expo, a futuristic exhibition that imagined what a future circular economy could look like, giving the concept the tangible quality it lacked and bringing it into the realm of the practical.
By demonstrating real-life applications of circular strategies at the Innovation Expo, and by putting the spotlight on iconic circular projects in the Netherlands — from Mud Jeans’ leasing jeans model to Black Bear Carbon’s used-tires-to-carbon-black process and Philips’ lighting-as-a-service proposition — the Netherlands effectively proved circularity to be a viable (and feasible) economic model.
“You’ve got this extraordinary expertise building up here in the Netherlands. Your next big leap is export, because you’ve got a gift to bring to a lot of other places.” (Andy Ridley, CEO at Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef, former CEO at Circle Economy)
But first and foremost was NLCH an exercise in transferring knowledge, as trade and journalist missions rolled in to learn about the Netherlands’ approach to closing the loop and connect with the pioneers advancing the field. The campaign democratized the circular economy concept to the rest of the world. It laid the grounds for and asked other countries to adopt and adapt the concept — and our plea did not fall on deaf ears.
Luxembourg steps into the ring
If we are to move towards the mass adoption of the circular economy, we need more countries to step into the ring and communicate their commitment to and their progress in terms of circularity as early and as often as possible.
Luxinnovation, the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce, and the Luxembourg government drew inspiration from the framework we provided to set up their own campaign and make Luxembourg the next circular hotspot, and we are excited to learn about the strides they’ve made over the last year at their showcase event throughout the coming days.
As more countries start to follow suit (looking at you, Scotland!), we hope to continue to turn the tide and make circularity the norm rather than the exception. Circular islands in overwhelmingly linear seas are no doubt a great start, but we are eager to see the islands multiply and grow until no linear waters can ever surround them again.