Eleven years ago, the first Green Business Club (GBC) was established at the Zuidas business district in Amsterdam. (GBC) established. The impact organization now has sixteen local clubs across the country. A few more are expected to open this year. But growth isn’t necessarily the goal of GBC director Eline Kik. “It’s about quality for us: we want every club to make as much impact as possible and for every club to strengthen our national network.” And that is already working well. For years GBC Zuidas was the forerunner, says Kik, who is also program director there. “In the beginning, all the new local clubs came to us to share knowledge and experiences, but now we can also learn a lot from other clubs.”
Zero Waste Zuidas
Zero Waste Zuidas is one of the GBC Zuidas programs that inspire other GBCs. In 2019, 27 Zuidas companies signed an agreement to achieve a Zuidas without residual waste by 2030. Focus in this regard: the prevention of waste and subsequent processing that is as high-quality and as local as possible. Amsterdam Economic Board is also involved in this. “About half of the participants of GBC Zuidas signed the ambition,” says Kik. “Not everyone dared to take on the challenge and that shows this is a solid ambition.”
Many great steps have already been taken in this program in the field of purchasing, waste separation and processing. Employees of the participating companies work together in subgroups on these themes. Knowledge sessions are organised, waste is mapped out in figures, collectors have started to work together more effectively and special wishes and requirements have been included in waste tenders for office buildings such as WTC Amsterdam, the shoe, ITO and SOM. “There is also a program that uses gamification to help organizations to purchase circularly,” says Kik. “ We are working together with PHI Factory, which is developing this Circular Procurement Accelerator. 60 participants from 21 organizations have registered!”
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Behavior and purchasing
Participating companies are also investigating how they can use things more economically in the office. For that you also have to instruct employees properly, says Kik. “Printing less is of course a very clear and easy step, but it is also important to properly arrange waste separation and ensure that the building manager facilitates this properly. For example, Houthoff and Accenture, neighbors in a multi-company building, will soon be recycling their coffee cups via the same party, with the cooperation of their manager.” It is the wish that a hub for high-quality and innovative processing of various waste flows will also be built near the Zuidas.
Another concrete outcome of Zero Waste Zuidas concerns logistics. That’s the purchasing catalogue, which GBC Zuidas recently published (in Dutch). To this end, HvA students conducted research at the gates of office buildings. They looked at where vans came from and what they delivered. “These so-called gate studies yielded many insights,” says Kik. “For example, that sometimes flowers, a basket of fruit or lunch were delivered from the other side of the city or even from another city. With the local catalog we encourage companies to purchase such products locally. We show which companies in the area can deliver, what packaging material they use and how they deliver. That also encourages those suppliers to work more sustainably.”
The zero waste approach at the Zuidas also caught the interest of the Rijkswaterstaat program VANG Buitenshuis. They support GBC Netherlands with a financial contribution to take this approach further. “As a result, we can now support other local clubs with project management hours to set this up, improving and copying the GBC Zuidas approach where possible,” explains Kik.
This happens at GBC Sloterdijken, among others, which was founded last year. Pantar and Milieu Service Nederland are two of the founding partners there and they were already well on their way with the Circular Hub and Plastic Recycling Amsterdam (PRA). Two other participants, Arcadis and APG, are now also redesigning their waste policy. Plastic, metal and drink cartons (PMD) of the participants can be processed at PRA and innovations related to waste processing can be tested on the Pantar site.
Board member Jacqueline Cramer was also involved in Zero Waste Zuidas in the early days and is following the rollout of the program with great interest. “The difficult thing with these kinds of initiatives is scaling up, in order to initiate a real transition and to anchor something in society. I am glad that there is now a whole network of initiatives around zero waste. I think that GBC Nederland, as a transition broker, should continue to share as much knowledge and figures as possible about this.”
Cramer, as the inventor of the concept of network management, knows like no other how to work together in a complex network. She developed ten building blocks for such a collaboration. “With regard to residual waste, you have to deal with a complicated network of municipalities, companies, building managers and waste processing companies. You can make this entire network work together effectively by using those building blocks.”
According to Cramer, it can be good for the zero waste approach to work towards a guideline containing different performance levels, as is also done with PIANOo’s purchasing guidelines. “As a business club, you can then agree that the lowest level will be passé in a few years.”
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GBC director Kik naturally hopes that more Green Business Clubs will join the zero waste ambitions in the Netherlands and therefore also in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area (MRA). “We can use the Amsterdam Economic Board for this: it has an enormous network, a lot of knowledge and operates on an MRA scale. I think we can make better use of that.”
Text: Mirjam Streefkerk