The Netherlands aims to have a fully circular economy by 2050 and halve its use of raw materials by 2030. In recent years, however, little progress has been made in either regard. To achieve these goals in time, policy on this should be more mandatory. And it is crucial that products are designed in a way that enables high-quality recycling, longer use of existing raw materials and reduced use of new ones. This is according to the Integrated Circular Economy Report (ICER). RIVM has contributed to the report with scientific research into substances of very high concern in a circular economy and the development of a Raw Materials Information System (GRIS).

RIVM contribution to the ICER

Every two years, the Dutch government commissions the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) to publish an ICER outlining the status of the transition to a circular economy in the Netherlands. RIVM has contributed to this year’s report with two studies: one on a safe circular economy (Towards a safe circular economy: successes, opportunities and challenges) and the other on the development of GRIS (Developing GRIS: First results and lessons learned).

Safe and sustainable design

A circular economy is based on the substantially reduced and more efficient use of raw materials. To this end, products must be safe and sustainable from the design stage onwards. The design stage determines the choice of material, lifespan and reusability. Recycled materials may contain substances of high or very high concern. That is why it is important to know which substances are present in the products in circulation and whether they are safe for humans and the environment when reused or recycled. The best way to get to grips with this is by manufacturing products that do not use substances of concern, making them safe raw materials further down the line. On top of that, we have to manage the risks associated with the substances already present in a safe manner.

Information system for raw materials

More circular production and consumption reduces the use of raw materials. This is an important way to remove negative environmental effects and minimise future raw materials crises. RIVM has explored what is needed to develop an information system for raw materials. GRIS will collect information about raw materials that are imported, extracted, used or exported in the Netherlands. In addition, GRIS will provide insight into who uses these materials in the Dutch economy and for what purpose, as well as how large the stocks are and what impact this has on the environment.