Speeding towards a circular economy: Acts of the Region 2018
20 June 2018 – Circularity is a hot topic. This was evident in the charming Amsterdam restaurant LEUK during the third Circular Commitment event ‘Circular Purchasing 1-2-3’, part of State of the Region 2018. Companies, universities and local authorities have been lining up to sign the Board’s initiative to collaborate on making the world more sustainable. Time to celebrate successes!
The basis of an environmentally friendly planet literally and figuratively depends on the material transition. It’s the Amsterdam Economic Board’s job to get all the relevant players in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area (AMA) on board. Over the past year and a half, this has produced some fantastic partnerships, with an absolute value that can be expressed in financial terms. The amount was revealed as the climax of the event, with a big red button and popping champagne corks.
But first, the programme. Once everyone had found a seat after the handshakes and chatter, with #SOTR20018 at the ready, Jacqueline Cramer and Marjolein Brasz – ladies in red – ran through the agenda. Brasz described it as a historic day: ‘Today ten companies, local authorities and universities are signing up to 19 commitments to circular purchasing, and there are many more eagerly waiting in the wings! Thirty-two alderpersons, two members of the provincial executive, and the Transport Authority Amsterdam have also just signed a firm Declaration of Intent on Circular Procurement and Purchasing.’
So there was every reason to celebrate. But what had we all actually come for? Cramer first explained the philosophy behind circular purchasing. ‘The transition to a circular economy will go faster if commissioning clients organise purchasing and product chains according to circular principles. This gives a signal to the market. Companies are then guaranteed that circular thinking pays and is here to stay.’
Radical change is needed. The Board therefore established so-called ‘communities of practice’ in the region, in which government, industry and universities were able to learn together, brainstorm and think about how to build support for circular purchasing and procurement systems in practice.
‘I just don’t get it!’
Time to hear some experiences from the floor. After a rousing speech by John Nederstigt, alderperson for the Municipality of Haarlemmermeer, and a pioneering champion of circular purchasing, suddenly a woman’s voice piped up: ‘I just don’t get this circular purchasing. There are so many obstacles to deal with!’ It took a moment before everyone realised that this wasn’t a worried purchaser but the start of a sketch, which took a humorous look at the clichés and tricky aspects of circular purchasing.
When the laughter had died down, the ten parties took an oversized red pen and put their signature to the circular commitments, some accompanied by a brief interview with Cramer and Brasz on the plans to realise them.
And indeed, there is a lot going on. The message: don’t get bogged down in red tape, there’s no time to waste. The Municipality of Zaanstad is copying Amsterdam’s approach to recycling IT equipment and purchasing their furniture according to circular principles. Schiphol has put ‘displays as a service’ out to tender, so displays remain the property of the suppliers, which makes for a longer lifespan and recycling of materials by the supplier after use. The University of Amsterdam is using shared bikes and circular office furnishings. Workwear (Meerlanden) and garden maintenance (Nova College) are also proving to be ideal for a circular approach. Signposts (the Gooi and Vechtstreek region) can be made using a biocomposite. Components of buildings are being issued with a ‘material passport’, bridge construction (Province of Noord-Holland) is being ‘lego-lised’ (modular construction, yielding a 15 per cent saving in costs) and an entire area, Bijlmer Bajes, is being designed according to circular principles (water, materials and energy). The audience found all this thoroughly inspiring.
Red button: EUR 150,088,600!
After the interviews and signatures, all the key figures came on stage and a big red button was produced. What was the total added value in euros that they had just signed up to? The screen behind them revealed an amount of no less than 150,088,600 euros. They then made way for the AMA alderpersons and members of the provincial executive who had signed the Declaration of Intent on Circular Purchasing and Procurement.
10% circular procurement by 2022, at least 50% by 2025 and 100% as soon as possible. Another crowded stage and a photo opportunity!
Finally an agenda for action was presented, as part of the event was about inspiring and guiding as many other organisations as possible to join the circular purchasing movement. In the Circular 1-2-3 campaign, the Board provides examples in practice to learn from, and companies and universities can take part in the Community of Practice for Circular Purchasing #3 (both via the Board), and the AMA Circular Purchasing and Procurement Working Group for local government (via AMA Material Director Jolein Baidenmann). Finally, the extra stimulus from central government for circular and climate neutral purchasing this year includes various learning networks. There are networks for product groups such as building and civil engineering, IT or workwear, and related topics such as internal organisation and shadow prices. The learning networks are open to public organisations; private organisations can take part if they are participants in the circular purchasing green deal.
Then it was time for glasses of prosecco and a toast to the future!