The Netherlands is 24.5% circular.

Major overhauls to the framework of the national economy - including jobs - will be necessary to achieve the government’s ambitions of a fully circular economy by 2050.
Circularity metric
The Netherlands


The Netherlands is already a frontrunner in the global race to circularity, but this study uncovers sectors where hardwired linear conduct is embedded.

The Netherlands consumes 221 million tonnes of materials - minerals, fossil fuels, metals and biomass - each year. Of this, 167 million tonnes are never cycled back into the economy. Our report conveys how this number can be reduced, thereby increasing the circularity of the country from 24.5% to 70%.


The Dutch economy can adopt the following interventions within four key sectors to deliver impactful circular change:
Advanced construction practices
Limit, or even stop the demolition of buildings and ensure that building methods revolve around the renovation and reuse of materials.
Circular agriculture and food system
Implement agricultural practices that prioritise waste reuse and local production and trade, such as stopping the import of animal feed and export of animal products.
Shifting from fossil fuels to renewable sources
Increase the share of renewable energy used to power the country and axe fossil fuel use.
Repair, remanufacturing and high-value recycling
Double the current material use of the repair sector, as well as the amount of high-value recycling and the share of recycled materials in imports.

Jobs and skills in a
Dutch circular economy

The right competencies on the ground must be developed to translate the notion of circularity to reality; the systemic shift will require human capital.

The core pillars behind preserving a material’s maximum value (reuse, repair, remanufacture and recycling), hinge on processes that could transform, increase or phase out certain jobs and skills.
Advanced construction processes will create job opportunities in the sourcing, sorting, testing and supply of high-quality secondary materials. It will also require more expertise in the digitalisation of construction.

The large scale adaptation of circular agriculture needs to be facilitated through cutting edge research jobs.

Mainstreaming the remanufacture and repair of goods will bring a shift in typical business models. Also, repairing and refurbishing capital equipment, for example, will increase the number of engineers skilled in refurbishment.


In this analysis, we take a consumption perspective to provide insights into the material use of different economic activities. Borrowing and building on existing studies on similar measurements, our Circularity Metric measures the share of cycled materials as part of the total material consumption of a national economy every year.

The value of this approach is that it allows us to track changes over time, measure progress and engage in uniform goal-setting, as well as benchmark countries’ circularity against the global rate.
Read the methodology

Methodology Review

The methodology behind our Circularity Metric builds upon an increasing body of scientific literature and methodologies that are constantly being improved.

To contribute to the standardisation of these methodologies and the resulting metric, we have partnered with Dutch research institutes CBS (Statistics Netherlands) and PBL (Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency) to develop a review and comparison of current methodologies to measure the circularity of the Dutch economy.

For more information, read our joint position paper. 
Read the paper (Dutch)


The Circularity Gap Initiative aims to highlight the urgency of the transition to a circular economy and inspire key decision makers in both government and business to coordinate action to accelerate that transition. We do this by bringing together stakeholders from academia, businesses, NGOs and governments to input, evaluate and endorse annual reports on the state of the transition based on the latest scientific evidence.
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Mariette Hamer
Chairwoman at the Social and
Economic Council
The transition to a circular economy is much needed:
from a sustainable and socio-economic perspective.
This report provides valuable insights and inspiration to spark the necessary discussion of what a circular future
for the Netherlands could look like and the skills needed
to make it a reality.
Dimitri de Vreeze
The Dutch government’s ambitious target to be fully circular by 2050 means that policymakers and businesses must join forces; we have to do this together. The baseline assessment and future scenarios sketched in this report provide a good starting point to drive both the discussion and collaboration needed to enable a circular Netherlands.
Anne-Marie Rakhorst
Chair of the transition team Consumer
Goods, and Entrepreneur, Investor and
Founder at
Today a quarter of the Dutch economy is circular. This offers a beautiful opportunity for entrepreneurs and society to bridge the gap. This report provides useful directions and perspectives on how to move forward. Collaboration will be central, in and across sectors. Tremendous news in the country of the polder model!


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