A circular economy; an economy where everything is re-cycled and reused, where waste doesn’t exist and where energy comes from renewable sources. Is this type of economy realistic? Companies and municipalities are aiming to be fully ‘sustainable’ in a couple of years. However, is it truly possible within the current system to be fully sustainable?
Six principles of a circular economy:
Yes it is. Two years ago I made a documentary about the closed-loop community at De Ceuvel in Amsterdam Noord. De Ceuvel is a self-sustaining community just 10 minutes away from Central Station. It is a piece of heavily polluted land that is leased by the municipality for ten years to a group of entrepreneurs. The land used to be part of an industrial area and was used for the dissembling of ships. Now, decades later, this group of creative and social enterprises have thought of a plan to make this waste land into one of the most unique and sustainable urban developments in Europe.
Special purifying plants will clean the heavily polluted soil, so there is no need for expensive soil sanitation techniques. This biomass will again be used to make products and energy. In order to be able to move around without disturbing the plants, they created floating platforms connecting the different studios. The studios are made of old housing boats that would have ended up in the junkyard but are now fully upcycled to brand new working spaces. Moreover, after ten years the (clean) land will be given back to the municipality and the housing boats can be easily moved to a different place.
Furthermore, solar panels are installed to generate energy from the sun. Green roofs and water collection systems are introduced to collect, purify and store the rainwater. Moreover, it is a platform for experimenting with new technologies for more sustainable solutions. So yes, this experiment shows us that it is possible to be self-sufficient and working towards a circular economy.
There are plenty of examples of small scale projects that are (close to) self-sufficient and are operating within the ideas of a circular economy. However, bigger entities such as the municipality of Leiden are also saying they want to take this step. My question is how far does the municipality want to go in becoming more sustainable? Are they willing to move away from current techniques and invest in more sustainable ways of operating? I state that it is possible to create these kinds of communities on a bigger scale, but we should move away from traditional systems and ideas. We should look at these innovative small scale projects and see what factors bigger entities can get from them.
How possible do you think this is? What struggles will they encounter compared to smaller projects?
To get some inspiration and see how De Ceuvel was actually build up, check out the documentary I made over here: