Rotterdam aims for circularity to be the norm by 2030. In 2050, the urban economy must be fully circular. In a series of stories, produced by the collaborating parties of the Rotterdam brand alliance 'Rotterdam. Make It Happen.', various aspects and developments regarding circularity in Rotterdam are discussed. For this article we talked to Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb and Alderman Chantal Zeegers.
Rotterdam Circular. Don’t those words contradict each other?
Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb (AA): On the contrary. When asked how we can live sustainably in the future, residents and entrepreneurs are providing their own answers. It has long been clear that the economy of the future will be circular and local. For many innovative, creative entrepreneurs, this is already self-evident. Together with the city, we are going to ensure that Rotterdam is 100% sustainable by 2050. Where one person’s waste is another person’s raw material.
Chantal Zeegers, climate alderman (CZ): Together we are going to make sure that we produce more sustainably, buy more consciously and dispose of things in a better way. From jeans to baguettes, from toilet seats to skyscrapers, everything is made of raw materials and can become raw materials again after use. We need to get rid of the linear economy with CO2 emissions and waste. This is more necessary than ever.
Do you have an example of such a company?
CZ: Rotterdam-based architecture company Superuse Studios is one such business where circularity is at the core of how their architects work. They have now spread their wings internationally.
AA: Recently I was allowed to inaugurate Hardt Hyperloop’s new headquarters and experience center in M4H, which was fantastic. That company is developing a European hyperloop system in which people or goods can be transported by hyperloop train through a low-pressure tunnel. As a result, speeds of up to 1,200 km per hour can be achieved in theory! Rotterdam participates in Hyperconnected Europe, a city network that supports the development of a hyperloop network.
How does the council support these developments?
CZ: With “Circo Tracks,” for example. That’s where Rotterdam entrepreneurs are immersed in circular entrepreneurship for a few days. And they build a network to move forward.
We also have a Circular Information Desk. Entrepreneurs often encounter barriers in practice, such as outdated laws and regulations. With the Circular Information Desk we want to help circular entrepreneurs on their journey. We also help entrepreneurs to get started with a special circular subsidy scheme that helps to make their production process more sustainable, to implement a business plan, to work with residual streams or to make people more conscious of how they use stuff or food. For example, creative Bureau Kongsi was able to use the money to place special Bike Repair Stations around town, where anyone can repair his or her bicycle free of charge 24 hours a day. And at “The Swap Shop,” people can now exchange clothes. There are already two well-run permanent locations.
AA: And, last but not least, as a large organization, we take our role as a client seriously and purchase (wholesale) from local circular entrepreneurs whenever possible. This also creates new opportunities in the city. All circular businesses and initiatives, large or small, contribute to our ambition to be waste-free by 2050. Together with Chantal, I look forward to welcoming and supporting more and more innovators in our city in the coming years!
This article is part of the magazine ‘Rotterdam Circulair’, produced by the collaborating parties of the Rotterdam brand alliance ‘Rotterdam. Make It Happen.” The stories from this magazine will be published weekly from mid-February 2023 on the websites of various brand alliance partners. Knowing more? Check out www.rotterdammakeithappen.nl. Have the stories inspired you and do you want to contribute to the development of Rotterdam’s circular economy? Send us an e-mail message. We are happy to connect you with the right people and organizations.
Photos accompanying this article: Willem de Kam, Marc Nolte, Eric Fecken.