Thursday 08 December 2022

Cigarette end recycling? The Netherlands plans to go circular by 2050

A government report on how to reach circular economy targets is recommending that tobacco companies be made jointly responsible for clearing cigarette ends from the streets.

The report, produced by employers organisations, environmental groups and officials, says that cigarette ends are ‘largely made up of plastics which are extremely difficult to break down’.

More also needs to be done to deal with old mattresses, some 1.2 million of which are dumped every year, while efforts must be made to boost the amount of vegetable protein in the Dutch diet from 40% to 60%, the NRC reported.

The recommendations are just a few of dozens made by the Dutch environmental assessment agency, the national statistics office CBS and the public health institute RIVM to help reduce the use of raw materials in the Netherlands by 50% by 2030.

The government wants to ensure that the use of new raw materials is halved in the next 22 years and that the economy is fully circular by 2050. Although some 80% of waste produced in the Netherlands is currently recycled in some form, recycled waste only accounts for 8% of the raw material used to make new products.

However, earlier research showed that a full transition to a circular economy could boost the economy by more than €7bn and create 54,000 new jobs.

The report also outlines ways the government can monitor the use of recycled materials and how far there is yet to go in order to meet government targets. ‘The monitoring system has to be further developed in the coming years,’ the report states.

There will also be specific focuses on the ‘transition agenda’ for biomass and food, construction, plastics, manufacturing and consumer products.

Government purchases

Junior environment minister Stientje van Veldhoven told the NRC that 10% of government purchases should be circular by 2020. That means second-hand office chairs, recycled printing paper, reusable laptops and lighter viaducts, the paper said.

‘A lot of carbondioxide is produced when cement is made,’ Van Veldhoven said. ‘There are 3D printed concrete viaducts which are lighter but equally strong and they are recyclable. The roads department is now looking at that option.’

Wind turbines too can use more metal from older wind turbines which are being taken out of service, she said.

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