Ahead of the World Dairy Summit, held in October 2016 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, Circle Economy and FrieslandCampina explored the potential pathways for the Dutch dairy sector to transition to the circular economy. Findings are presented in the Discussion Paper - The Circular Dairy Economy.  

The global dairy sector provides livelihoods and vital nutrition to billions of people worldwide. It also faces major challenges and sustainable growth compatible with the intents of the Dairy Sustainability Framework is imperatively needed. 

Circular economy principles offer a promising avenue to resolve these challenges. 

A truly circular dairy sector is regenerative and closes nutrient, water, carbon and waste cycles while promoting biodiversity, optimising land use and safeguarding farmer income. 

The Dutch dairy sector is a recognised innovation leader and Dutch dairy farmers have an important role to play in leading a transition toward circularity. To start this transition, three archetype pathways were identified:

  • Optimised grazing, which seeks to maximise the productivity of the land by combining biological and technological approaches to achieve circularity.
  • Extensive grazing, which builds on biological processes and organic farming methods to close the soil-plant-animal-nutrient cycle locally.
  • Intensive high-tech farming, which leverages technological solutions to close key cycles.


The Dutch dairy sector is well positioned to lead a transition to the circular economy,

which can help safeguard its 'license to operate'.

Graphic: A vision for circular dairy

Building on this discussion paper, FrieslandCampina and Circle Economy are committed to the practical and scalable implementation of the circular economy. The paper acts as a CALL TO ACTION to build a coalition of farmers and actors from across the value chain to support further research and action.