Amsterdam presents plans to halve material use by 2030, have full circular economy by 2050


Amsterdam’s College of Mayor and Alderpersons presented a set of measures with which the city aims to halve its use of raw materials by 2030 and have a fully circular economy by 2050. The measures range from encouraging residents to waste less food, to promoting repairs and second-hand shops, to increasing the sustainability requirements for construction.

“None of us want to live in a disposable society. But to change this we have to start looking at our economy in a fundamentally different way, examining how we consume, produce and process materials,” deputy mayor Marieke van Doorninck, responsible for Sustainability, said. This means producing items to a higher quality so that they can be reused, repairing things instead of just throwing away, and sharing products instead of owning them, she said. “In doing so we will preserve the raw materials that we so badly need and also reduce our energy consumption.”

In the coming time, the city of Amsterdam will monitor and record various material flows, from their start in the supply chain through processing, to see where and how materials can be conserved. In the meantime, various measures will be taken to start using less right now.

Every year an average of 41 kilograms of edible food is thrown away per person in the Netherlands. To reduce this waste, Amsterdam will implement new policies aimed at specific sectors like hotels and restaurants, to make sure that surplus food is not wasted and gets to the people who need it most. The city will also launch campaigns to discourage Amsterdam residents from wasting food. Amsterdam hopes this will result in 50 percent less food waste by 2030.

To make it easier for residents to consume less, Amsterdam is teaming up with businesses, local initiatives, and universities and research institutes to establish a well-functioning and easily accessible infrastructure of sharing platforms, second-hand shops, online market places, and repair services. The city is also calling on the national government to take measures on this front. “Shift the tax on labor to a tax on raw materials and energy,” Van Doorninck said. “This will lower the cost of repairs, while new products will become more expensive. On top of that, it will also create more jobs in the makers industry.”

In the construction sector, Amsterdam is increasing the sustainability requirements when it issues tenders. More circular materials must be used, and buildings will be required to maintain a material passport – to show exactly what materials were used where and what can be reused when it comes to renovation and demolition. “The construction sector has already shown that it is able to meet these requirements in Buksloterham, where the first circular urban district is currently being developed,” the city said.

Amsterdam will also reduce the consumption of its municipal organizations by 20 percent by 2030, looking first at the consumables, furnishings and fittings in municipal buildings. The city is also working with companies and research institutes on some 200 products to contribute to the circular economy.