*Text with great thanks to CITIES’ intern Caroline Pelcat

NRK Recycling organized the Plastics Gone Circular Congress 13 June 2016 at Pakhuis de Zwijger– a special occasion gathering people representing institutions, non-profit organisations and companies to show their actions and objectives in the field of plastic recycling.

With a full program stretching from lunch until dinner, different presenters came on stage to present their point of view and what they’re doing to reduce plastic waste, as well as covering general considerations, aspects and possibilities of the circular economy in Europe.

This was a great opportunity for CITIES Foundation’s director Francesca Miazzo to present WASTED, discussing the project’s achievements, challenges and vision going forward in the context of diverse international actors.

wasted plastics gone circular 2


A number of excellent speakers presented, as follows:

Event moderation
Bernard Merkx, NRK Recycling

Opening speech
Jur Zandbergen, chairman NRK Recycling

EU Strategy on Plastics in a Circular Economy
Keynote by Prof. Dr. Helmut Maurer, European Commission DG Environment, Waste Management & Recycling

Innovation Meets Circular Economy
Littering must be stopped, add value to waste.
Alexandre Dangis, Managing Director European Plastics Converters

Plastics Recycling and Circular Economy
Ton Emans, President Plastics Recyclers Europe

The Evolution of Veolia in the Circular Economy Market
Hildagarde McCarville, CEO Veolia Nederland

Sustainable Amsterdam: Towards a Circular Economy
Albert van Winden, Program Manager Circulaire Stad Amsterdam

Building Circularity with Communities
Francesca Miazzo, Managing Director and co-founder Cities Foundation

New Power: Giving Back. The Silky Road to E Mobility
Steef Korfker, Director E Mobility at Diplomatic Council

The Circular Challenges for Non-food Retail
Femke den Hartog, ‎Policy advisor International and Economic affairs Inretail

A Business Model for Sustainability
Ernest van den Boogerd, ‎Head of NCG Europe at Mauser

From Plastic Bag to Railway Sleeper
Sjouke Tjalsma, Managing Director Lankhorst Engineered Products



‘Waste is the new gold’
‘Circular economy is not an option but an obligation’

Knowing that climate change is a function of industry and transportation, they are the two sectors where most work is needed. Waste is obviously closely related to these two sectors.



Europe’s plastic consumption is 60 million tonnes, of which 39.6% goes for packaging and 20.3% for the building and construction sector – the two main fields consuming plastic.

Plastic waste in Europe amounts to 26 million tonnes (63% from packaging).


Landfill 40%
Energy recovery 35%
Collected for recycling 25%

In the last 50 years, plastic production grew 8.7% each year.

On average, in the EU capitals, only 19% of the plastic waste is recycled.



Amsterdam is one of the cities in Netherlands with the lowest waste separation numbers:

370 kilos of waste per inhabitant each year, of which 21.7 kilos are plastic, and only 1.8 kilos are collected for recycling

The Amsterdam 2020 waste plan aims to achieve three things:
1. Sustainability, with an objective to separate at least 65% of plastic waste
2. Good service, making it easy for the population to separate their waste
3. Cost efficiency



At present, we have a linear plastic economy (make-take-waste) with outdated landfill systems. Plastic is treated as a cheap, disposable material, which shows in municipal waste full of plastic.

When plastic is incinerated, all the energy used to produce it is lost forever. Instead, we could reuse the plastic, regenerating its energy for new use. We have to switch our energy behavior.

Unfortunately, today all plastic collected to be recycled is counted as recycled, when in fact part of it is never actually recycled.

Eight million tonnes of plastic goes to the oceans each year. If we continue this way, in 2030 there will be 1 tonne of plastic for every 3 tonnes of fish, and 1 tonne of plastic for 1 tonne of fish in 2050.



Recycle 50% of the plastic in municipal waste, with future EU policy aiming to keep 100% of plastic waste out of landfills



‘A circular economy looks at product first, not waste’:
Product policy is the trigger for improvement, not waste policy: this means that we have to care about plastic at the time of production, not when it becomes waste.

The producer responsibility should not be neglected: The EU directive to come is planning on setting financial incentives to foster plastic reduction and recycling among producers.

European Plastic Converters (EUPC) and Waste Free Oceans made an agreement with legislators that no more plastic will go to landfill by 2025 (see previously mentioned EU target)

Traceability is important because when you want to recycle plastic, you have to know which kind of plastic you have.

Innovation can bring a lot to circular economy

‘Think globally, act locally’: it is important to find local players

Today, mass production of electricity with solar panels has become cheaper than oil (power plants).

Taking different steps to succeed in reaching a sustainable model: Reduce the demand and (re)use sustainable resources

Need to ‘fit for use’: only package and make the product as necessary as it has to be

It is important to consider the full life of products: from cradle to cradle



In 2025, the plastic recycling industry could create 80.000 direct jobs, and 120.000 indirect jobs.



Produce sustainable heating from food waste (city in the North of France)

Industriepark Kleefse Park Haarlem
Transformation of an industrial park to an eco-cluster
Also producing biogas from coffegrounds
Recycled 1 billion plastic bottles already
Producing new vacuum cleaners from old ones

It is important to involve different types of actors. With WASTED, community is the heart of the project, working together with citizens, businesses, organizations and the municipality.

Biggest non-food retail organization in the Netherlands, focused on product life cycle

Mauser / NCG
Their business model: new packaging made from recycled plastics (hybrid products)
They convert waste into feedstock; 35% of the company profit comes from its reconditioning activity.

Engineered products
Circular plastic in Friesland

People: certification OHAS 18001
Planet: certification ISO 14001
Profit: certification ISO 9001
Closing the loop

Steel reinforced recycled plastic
Hybrid plastic used in rail transit – used in Sweden, for example, to allow noise reduction.



More information about the event (in Dutch) and the different presentations can be found at http://www.nrkrecycling.nl/congreskunststofrecycling.

NRK Recycling organized the Plastics Gone Circular Congress to bring together actors from citizens to members of parliament in a push to close the plastic loop, making plastic the standard in sustainable raw materials.

Type of activity
Date of the activity
June 2016

Location of the activity
Pakhuis de Zwijger

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