The Netherlands & Canada: transitioning to a circular economy

September 14, 2021

The Netherlands government always seeks to develop new international collaborations that create long-term positive impact and simultaneously benefit the economy. Canada and the Netherlands are innovative, creative, and reliable partners, and their long-standing historic friendship makes the business partnership natural. Marjan Lahuis, senior advisor of economic affairs at the Consulate General of The Kingdom of The Netherlands in Toronto, shares her observations on Canada’s circular goals and Dutch-Canadian efforts for a circular economy.

Disclaimer: Holland Circular Hotspot publishes opinions on CE from a wide range of perspectives in hopes of promoting constructive debate about consequential questions about Circular Economy.


Working together, sharing ideas and achieve common goals

Click here to get a glimpse of how the Netherlands views its role in connecting to partners and friends in Canada to transition to a more circular society together. It’s a win/win collaboration. With the Netherlands being the gateway to Europe thanks to its strategic location, excellent logistical infrastructure, and state-of-the-art connections, communications, and services, partnering with the Dutch allows Canadian companies to explore new markets in Europe.  

That is why in 2019, a memorandum of understanding was signed between Holland Circular Hotspot (HCH) and Canada Circular Hotspot (CCH). CCH is an independent non-governmental organization established to promote the adoption of the Circular Economy within the business community in Canada.  

Only by working together and sharing ideas, expertise, and experience, common goals will be achieved, like minimize the waste of our planet’s rapidly diminishing resources. Hence, CCH’s interest is action, not talk. 

Photo: Holland Circular Hotspot and Canada Circular Hotspot sign a memorandum of understanding in 2019.

What do organizations and businesses from the Netherlands have to offer and what kind of solutions are needed in Canada?

The  Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Toronto has been actively establishing long-term partnerships that can increase global competitiveness and facilitate smaller companies, in particular, to engage with strategic partners.  

One example of a successful collaboration is the partnership with Canada Circular Hotspot on a series of webinars the Consulate has organized in 2021. These webinars serve the following two goals: 

  1. To make the concept of Circular Economy more concrete to prioritize the most important problems and to find the optimal solutions;  
  2. To generate interest in circular economy issues and solutions, which may increase partnerships and cooperation between our two countries. 


Up to this date, we organized sessions on waste managementconstructionfood processingcircular procurementgreen healthcare, and cities going circular.

The Netherlands Consulate works with a wide range of other Canadian partners such as the Circular Innovations Council, the City of Toronto, the Guelph-Wellington Region, Ontario Environment Industry Association, Purpose Building, National Zero Waste  Council, Circular Economy Leadership Canada, and Environment and Climate Change Canada.  

All these partners will be involved in the World Circular Economy Forum hosted by Canada and the Finnish Innovation Fund SITRA from September 13 – 15. In addition, the Netherlands diplomatic mission network in Canada will be co-organizing two side events in the last quarter of 2021. The first event on September 22 will focus on organic waste diversion and will be held in partnership with the Ontario Environment Industry Association.  

At the end of October (date to be confirmed), the second side event will feature circular procurement models in the ICT sector and be organized in partnership with Closing the Loop. This session will follow up with the Fair and Circular ICT Pact launched in June, including a Canadian partner, the Circular Innovation Council 

Additional examples and opportunities

  • The City of Toronto, the City of Guelph, and the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region are working with Netherlands consultants from Circle Economy and Metabolic, respectively, to establish a road map for circular approaches and practices. 
  • The Netherlands Consulate General in Toronto establishes a Circular Innovations Living Lab, which will serve as a knowledge and information sharing hub and a testbed for innovative technologies within the built environment once a location is confirmed approved. 
  • The Circular Innovation Council (formerly Recycling Council Ontario) collaborates with the Netherlands Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management on circular procurement. It is a partner in the recently launched ‘Circular and Fair ICT Pact,’ an international procurement-led partnership between 9 European countries with Canada as the latest addition.  
  • To increase and enhance the different networking and matchmaking opportunities for Dutch and Canadian companies, the Consulate General will start the virtual community platform NLweCAN,  which will ao consist of a community discussion forum, an online networking space, and an e-learning library to store resources such as reports and market intelligence relevant to both countries.  
  • The Netherlands is exploring opportunities with Circular Economy Leadership Canada to contribute to the establishment of a National Circular Economy Innovation Ecosystem. 
  • To explore and identify opportunities for trade and collaboration with Canadian businesses, the Consulate will be undertaking a market study on the organics diversion industry in Canada. Results of this study are expected to be shared with the Dutch and Canadian business community towards the end of this year.

What does the future hold for circularity?

Colin Isaacs, Executive Director of the Canada Circular Hotspot, believes maintaining the momentum is key for a circular future. 

Although Circular Economy as a priority is only just beginning to gain some traction in Canada, many of the elements of circularity have deep roots in this country. Recycling, energy efficiency, pollution prevention, and protection of special places have been among government and community priorities for more than fifty years. Today’s challenge is to incorporate these and many more environmental, social, cultural, and economic priorities into an integrated Circular Economy agenda. Canada Circular Hotspot has been identifying opportunities within the private sector in Canada to demonstrate and operationalize circular solutions and has worked with the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Toronto to bring examples of European expertise and experience to business and governments in Canada. 

These efforts will continue in the year ahead through conversations with the Government of Canada and major Canadian corporations. Canada’s challenge is to design and implement an integrated Circular Economy policy framework acceptable to all parts of the country. Early indicators of the post-pandemic economy show that circularity and sustainability are reaching higher popular and political support levels than ever before. However, maintaining the momentum is a challenge that will require the dedication of more virtual, and less material, resources than any challenge that Canada’s highly material-intensive economy has ever before faced.” 

Want to know more? Follow us on LinkedIn to stay up to date on the Consulate’s activities.