According to the United Nations Population Fund, at the end of November 2022 the world’s population was about 8 billion. That number is expected to grow to 9.7 billion by 2050. The global demand for raw materials for food, electronic devices, clothing, etc. is constantly increasing.

How do we want to optimize demand for raw materials in the context of a growing world population?

The actions of the Netherlands are noteworthy.

The Dutch government is prioritizing measures aimed at sustainable development. The Dutch have long recognized that only close government vs. business cooperation can realistically approach the problem. Back in the 1980s, the environment in the Netherlands was in a dramatic state, with polluted air, huge amounts of garbage and undrinkable water to name just a few examples.

The Dutch quickly understood that circularity is all about cooperation between different parties and partnership. This was brilliantly defined by Henryk Stawicki in an interview with Paulina Gorska, comparing circularity to an “anthill.” Joint, integrated and conscious actions, consistency in their implementation, appropriate circularity strategy of companies, but also the environment in which they operate will be the key to success.

Comparing the area of the Netherlands 41.5 thousand km.2 and Poland 312.7 thousand km.2, it is not without influence that the country of tulips is several times smaller, so it is easier to implement changes, because in such a community we communicate and cooperate more efficiently. The Netherlands has a long-term plan, back in 2016. The government has developed a program to achieve 100% circularity of the economy by 2050, currently it is estimated to be about 25% circular. Impressive are the figures for the Netherlands’ waste recycling rate of 83%, interestingly only 3% of waste ends up in landfills. Poland in 2022/2023 is about 10% circularity, unfortunately we have a long way to go.

Raw materials and waste are one thing, the Dutch are moving buildings!

The example of the circular temporary court building which was moved from Amsterdam to Enschede, 150 km away, gives another dimension to urban design. The company that built the courthouse carried out the investment on the premise of “design, build, maintain and remove.”

The now relocated building has been given a new office and educational function. Although the cost of reassembly is comparable to the cost of building a new building, we avoided producing about 2 thousand tons of carbon dioxide – data according to Menno Rubbens (architect and CEO of Cepezed and Cepezedprojects, the companies that carried out the investment).

A floating self-sustaining farm in Rotterdam.

The Floating Farm is the world’s first floating circular farm. Beladon’s originator and CEO Peter van Wingerden saw many reasons to bring milk production closer to consumers. The goal was to bring production closer to consumers, among other reasons, in order to reduce the costs and environmental pollution associated with transporting products to customers. The farm is self- sufficient, such as generating energy, recycling waste, collecting animal droppings and turning them into compost, using rainwater, and interestingly the cows are fed grass mowed from urban areas. The most difficult part of the project according to the originator was the paperwork, including confirming that these are good conditions for the animals, they managed to find a veterinarian who confirmed that the cows tolerate prolonged rocking well.

These few examples show how the Dutch have already changed their approach to consumption several decades ago. The real action they are taking is no longer just recycling, they are planning for every branch of the economy to move toward closing the loop.

With the population growing, the demand for raw materials increasing, we don’t have time to just look at the precursors.

This is the time for real action.