Circular Amsterdam

Companies that work in the circular economy are thriving in Amsterdam. Just last week, Amsterdam-based Finch Buildings, which makes buildings out of wood, was chosen out of 800 entries as a finalist for the Accenture Innovation Awards. Finch develops modular housing made of wood, which is very flexible. Their plug & play modules can be easily connected or disconnected, vertically and horizontally, and they can be stacked up to five storeys high. They last for 50 years or more, and they are a perfect example of the circular economy, because 95% of the materials can recycled or upcycled.

Another recent standout is Leapp, which was a finalist in Amsterdam's Ondernemersprijs (Business Award) out of 81 entrants. The awards were presented during Amsterdam's Week of the Entrepreneur. As Leapp's founder Rogier van Camp told Het Parool, Leapp (which is an anagram of Apple) is now the leading supplier of refurbished second-hand Apple products in the Netherlands. “The circular economy is not just part of our marketing message; it is a matter of course,” he said, and that circular mission is one of the reasons that Apple decided to work with them.

Cradle to cradle to pioneer

Amsterdam is also a front-runner in the related field of cradle to cradle (C2C). According to the C2C philosophy, raw materials should be completely re-usable, with no loss of value. One of its leading proponents is architect William McDonough, who said that the Netherlands is the leader in this new field.

“The culture of the Dutch is actually the culture of the future,” he said (Dutch link). “I even think that the Netherlands is the leading country. People ask me where to look if they want to understand what’s happening in the field of C2C. And I say, look at the Netherlands.”

He attributes this success to the Dutch culture of cooperation. “The Dutch do not only see nature not as their enemy, or as their friend, but as something that you have to work with,” he said.