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The Dutch chemical sector is calling for a ‘Circular Deal‘. Such a deal, the call for which was submitted to the government informer just before Christmas, could transform the industry toward full sustainability and circularity. The plan includes using recycled materials, sustainable biomass, and the reuse of CO2.

Why you need to know

The chemical sector has traditionally not been the most sustainable industry. So, there is every reason for a transition. The ‘Circular Deal’ could accelerate that and put the Netherlands in a business-attractive leadership position.

“The Netherlands possesses the ideal conditions for this transition: knowledge, infrastructure, and innovative companies are all here,” according to the Green Chemistry New Economy platform. The government is called upon to create a stable policy and a level playing field. The proposal also stresses the importance of cooperation between the public and private sectors. According to the initiators, a future as a world leader in green chemistry is within reach. “The good news is that due to the knowledge, logistics chains, infrastructure, industry, and innovative frontrunners present, the Netherlands is ideally suited to turn this transition into a sustainable earnings model.”

Turning Point

The chemical industry is at a turning point. The need to switch to sustainable production processes is urgent due to environmental considerations and offers an opportunity for the Netherlands to take on a pioneering role in green chemistry. The proposed “Circular Deal” is an ambitious plan to transform the sector into a fully sustainable and circular industry.

This is no small task. The chemical sector has traditionally relied on fossil fuels and raw materials. Transitioning to using recycled plastics, sustainable biomass, and carbon derived from CO2 requires radical changes in technology and business models. But the will to make these changes is present in the industry, say the drafters of the appeal to the government informer.

Accelerating the green transition

The Circular Deal proposes to develop a stable long-term policy that creates markets for circular products and guarantees a level playing field between fossil and renewable raw materials. A key pillar of this policy is cooperation between government and business, advocating the creation of a Ministry of Circular Economy & Climate.

To accelerate the transition, a proposal is to organize public-private partnerships of around 1 billion euros of “patient venture capital for scaling up new innovative ventures focused on breakthrough technologies in green chemistry.” Utilizing waste and residual streams for new products is another crucial element of the proposed approach.

Chemelot Circular Hub: innovation in action

According to the stakeholders, the Chemelot Circular Hub in Geleen exemplifies how the chemical industry is already taking steps toward circularity. With its Circular Economy Action Plan, the chemical and materials cluster aims to develop a world without waste. Here, used products and materials are processed into new raw materials for sustainable products.

It is an alliance of companies, governments, and institutions committed to a cleaner, safer and healthier environment. Training programs focus on circularity to connect with a vital labor market. The ambition is to transform the Dutch chemical industry and set an example for chemical ecosystems in Europe and beyond.

The road to a sustainable future

With the call for a Circular Deal, the Dutch chemical industry indicates that it is ready to take on a leading role in the global transition to sustainability. This goes beyond simply making the industry more sustainable; according to those involved, it offers an opportunity to strengthen the economy and position the Netherlands as a center of green innovation.

The political will to support this transition seems to be present. The challenge now lies in translating this will into concrete action plans and removing barriers to the transition to green chemistry. The success of the Circular Deal will depend on the extent to which all parties involved are committed to this common mission.

The impact on society and the economy

The benefits of a successful transition to green chemistry are obvious. In addition to reducing environmental impact, the transition can provide new economic opportunities, innovation, and employment. Young generations and current workers open to retraining can benefit from an industry focused on sustainability. But it will take a lot of investment to get there.