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Regional stakeholders all set to make circular economy a reality

28-07-2017

Businesses, local authorities and research and educational institutions in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area (AMA) are joining an effort to accelerate the transition to a circular economy. A report published on the 20th of July exploring spatial and economic strategies for the future of Amsterdam’s Westas (West Axis) district concludes that while circularity is both useful and feasible, it does require collaboration between all stakeholders involved. The report also notes that the AMA has both the drive and the resources required to become a testing ground for a circular economy.

Most experts are familiar by now with the term ‘West Axis’, which refers to the circular and geographic counterpart to Amsterdam’s South Axis, the capital’s bustling financial and business hub. The West Axis runs from the Port of Amsterdam to plant and transport hub Greenport Aalsmeer, traversing Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport – three world-class logistics hubs. Less visible, but certainly no less important, is the fourth logistics hub integrated into the fabric of the West Axis: Amsterdam’s digital gateway.

Authoritative report concludes circularity is“inevitable”

These hubs form part of a consortium of businesses and national, provincial and local authorities that commissioned the above-mentioned report (Ruimtelijk-Economische Verkenning Westas [REVW]). The main conclusion of the report is that the transition to a circular economy is inevitable: consumers are demanding it; natural resources are running out and quality of life is being compromised, yet there is a continued expectation of sustained economic growth.

Requirements for growth by switching to circularity

The report cited above opens with the following question: ‘Is the transition to a circular economy useful and feasible (in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area)? If so, what are the prerequisites for a successful transition?’ The answer is ‘yes’: such a transition is both feasible and useful, provided that the stakeholders can work together successfully and coordinate their activities. There is a need for an integrated, regional approach in which all partners are involved. The requirements for growth in the area must be carefully considered, as circular production processes call for a rearrangement of the physical space available and a reorganisation of goods flows.

Feedback from the business community

The report contains a detailed market survey, an overview of circular business sites in the area, and an outlook for the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area in 2030. From a market perspective, the report assesses criteria such as the demands of businesses looking to settle in the area, laws and regulations, and the AMA’s international competitive position. The report, which also assesses a number of requirements for cooperation, finds that businesses are mainly keen to know what they can expect from their public-sector partners and expect public-private partnerships to result in improved regulations. Public authorities can also play an active role in attracting new domestic and international businesses.

Four transition pathways

The authors of the report also performed a quick scan of initiatives related to raw materials (i.e. construction materials and biomass), energy, logistics and information. ‘The scan shows that while the four logistics hubs have all launched initiatives in these areas, they could find ways to speed these processes up further.’
The next few years will see an increase in investment in these four areas, which represent pathways to facilitate a faster transition to a circular economy.

From talk to action

The report mainly serves as a guideline for all parties involved to actively take charge of the transition to a circular economy. With the research now completed and the official report published, it is time for the partners to set to work, both individually and collectively. Jaap Bond, Deputy for the Province of North Holland and former chair of the Circular West Axis working group: ‘Our priority for the immediate future will be to determine in what capacity the various partners involved in the West Axis initiative will be working together from now on. We need to stop talking and start taking action, so we can begin the transition to a new type of economy.’

Source: Anke Hoets, www.amsterdamlogistics.nl.