Circulair economy policy

End-of-pipe policies must be replaced by chain-oriented policies characterised by realism and impact.


Fiscal instruments are necessary to prevent rather than cure

Incineration taxes do not increase recycling. Secondary raw materials obtained through recycling compete with primary (fossil) raw materials. Imposing incineration taxes on the processing of residual waste streams will make recycling even more expensive than primary production. Tax incentives should be shifted to the front end of the chain, starting with reduced VAT on secondary raw materials.

The VANG target should be replaced by a recycling target

The goal for municipalities was to collect only 100 kg of residual waste per capita by 2020 (the VANG target). Many municipalities developed policies to discourage the collection of residual waste. This focus led to more contamination in separately collected waste streams and, in some cases, to more litter. We believe that recycling should be the main focus and therefore advocate in favour of replacing the VANG target with a recycling target and introducing national quality standards for separately collected waste streams.

Clean material chains are obtained by phasing out and cleaning up unwanted substances

We want to bring secondary raw materials back into the circular economy without Substances of Concern. People still sometimes look at recyclers to make this happen, but that is like filling a bucket full of holes. Substances that we do not want in secondary chains should be banned in the primary chain. Substances of Concern and substances for which there is no recycling infrastructure in Europe (e.g. PLA) should be banned in new products. We can only help clean up these substances by waste-to-energy and landfilling these substances.

We lack a definition of what we specifically imagine the circular economy to be

The Central Government's goal is to have a 100% circular economy by 2050. And everyone then forms their own opinion on what that is supposed to mean. Non-scientists may even get the notion that all resources will then be recycled infinitely and that there will be no waste at all. That is impossible from a thermodynamical perspective. Politicians therefore need to put science to work to define what a circular economy looks like in concrete terms. The findings will show that waste-to-energy plants and landfills will continue to be necessary in 2050 and that it is dangerous for the environment to ignore this.

Circular procurement targets must be consistent with recycling targets

If we have a target of, say, 50% plastic recycling, we should really only buy plastic products made from 50% recycled material. Otherwise, we should not be surprised if plastic waste ends up somewhere abroad. Therefore, the government's circular procurement target of 10% could be somewhat more ambitious and should be in line with the recycling targets for each waste stream.

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