Chinese webshops still most popular as foreign online spending rises

Dutch consumers spent €817m in foreign webshops last year, a rise of 28% on 2016, according to new figures from the Thuiswinkel Market Monitor. Nevertheless, foreign webshops only account for 4% of total online spending, the organisation said. Chinese webshops accounted for 30% of total spending and are particularly popular for electronic goods, toys and telecom products. German online retailers were next on the list of popular foreign web shops but both France and Spain are growing in popularity. 'China remains the most popular destination for cross-border shoppers, due to the low prices and delivery costs,' says Thuiswinkel director Wijnand Jongen. Nevertheless, the advantages enjoyed by Chinese web shops will soon be phased out, Jongen said. Delivery costs have become more expensive since the beginning of this year, and from 2021, value-added tax will be payable on orders with a value of below €22. 'We have been campaigning for both these changes to ensure a level playing field for Dutch webshops,' Jongen said. In total, almost three in 10 people in the Netherlands bought a product or service via a foreign webshop last year.  More >

Dutch gamers urged to back #myfirstblood

Computer games are often said to be bloodthirsty, but Dutch blood bank Sanquin has run a donor recruitment campaign targeting the players of online battle game League of Legends. Sanquin, which is privately owned, wanted to recruit more young men aged 18 to 35 and worked together with Riot Games, the makers popular game League of Legends, to drum up more support. It is the first time the Dutch League of Legends community has been mobilised by a social campaign, Sanquin says. ‘Are you the gamer who goes as far as possible to win? We do that at Sanquin too,’ the #myfirstblood website text states. ‘Together with our 340,000 donors, we save lives. Perhaps a member of your family or one of the hundred of thousands gamers in the Netherlands. Will you join our battle?’ Players who agreed to check whether they could give blood or not win an award - a Blood Moon ‘skin’ for the character Thresh – if they send a selfie of themselves at the Sanquin testing centre. So far, 300 new blood donors have been signed up, broadcaster NOS reported. League of Legends is one of the most popular online games in the world and is played by tens of millions of people every year. In the game, two teams of five characters attempt to wipe out the other’s base. The campaign, which has generated interest in Belgium and the US, runs until the end of this year. Sanquin says #myfirstblood has been prompted to target youngsters to ensure the continuity of blood donations.  More >

Plastic road opens in Zwolle

They call it re-cycling. The municipality of Zwolle today opens a trial 30m stretch of bike path made from reused plastic, in a project that hopes to speed up road building and give old bottles a second life. The PlasticRoad, made “from as much recycled plastic as possible” has been created by the businesses KWS, plastic pipe maker Wavin and Total oil and gas group and the pilot is being supported by Zwolle. The designers hope that the prefabricated road structure will be able to help prevent flooding, with a special hollow to hold water or carry cables, and last three times longer than traditional road structures. KWS announced the concept in 2015, with inventor Simon Jorritsma saying: “You see a bottle; we see a road.” A second trial road will be built in November in Overijssel province, reports the Telegraaf.  More >

Councils concerned about 'solar panel tax'

Municipalities have been urged not to penalise people who install solar panels on their roofs by raising the amount they have to pay in local property tax. The OZB, or onroerendezaakbelasting, is calculated as a percentage of the estimated value of the value of a property. The increasing popularity of solar energy in recent years has meant houses that generate their own energy are worth more, meaning higher tax bills. Auke Oldenbeuving, of the Christian Democrat group on Emmen council, is among those calling for the system to be reformed after one resident recently saw the value of his property increasedby an extra €3,000 a year as a result of having 20 solar panels on his property. That in turn boosted his property tax bill. 'We want people to make their homes more sustainable. We've even introduced an attractive loan facility for solar panels. We shouldn't be reclaiming it through the back door by imposing tax on it,' Oldenbeuving told AD. Other local authorities such as Haarlemmermeer, Capelle aan den IJssel and Delft have also sought clarification from officials about the way OZB is calculated.  More >

Publicly funded science open to all

From 2020 all scientific papers resulting from publicly funded research in the Netherlands will be freely available for anyone to read. Eleven countries have signed up for the new rule which was developed by Science Europe, a group of heads of national research funding organisations and the EC European Political Strategy Centre. Plan S, of which the Netherlands has been one of the most vocal supporters, may effectively put scientific journals, which depend on hefty subscription fees and paywalls, out of business. In the Netherlands alone universities wishing to stay up to speed with the latest scientific developments are paying some €40m a year, the Volkskrant said. From January 2020 publicly funded research papers can only be published on open access platforms or open access journals which agree to one-off bill for editing and publishing costs. Prestigious journals, such as Nature and Science, already offer scientists the possibility to buy out their papers and put them on line for free. ‘This was a hybrid model that was only supposed to be temporary. But publishers are continuing to do it and we want to put an end to it,’ research funding organisation NOW spokesman Stan Gielen told the paper. The EU also wants to change the way science is valued and says scientific work should no longer be judged by the journal it is published in. ‘We want to stop looking at where it was published and start looking at what has been published,’ Gielen said.  More >