‘The Red Threads 2023’ report: six insights into circular chain collaboration

February 17, 2023

During the Dutch Circular Economy week, the Circular Netherlands Accelerator published its report, Rode Draden 2023. This report contains the common obstacles companies experience when doing circular business, followed by an overview of possible solutions through practical experiences. The goal? To create an avenue for entrepreneurs towards a circular economy.

Do you want to know why circular companies should work together and why it’s necessary to ensure good collaboration? This report shows six leading threads in circular chain collaboration, which may be familiar or of interest to you.

Read below the summary of the six threads.



“Right now, we need to be aware that the value of sources can be preserved by the means of intensive cross-border collaboration”

Freek van Eijk, Director Holland Circular Hotspot

Circular Chain Collaboration

To achieve the transition to a circular economy companies need each other. A circular economy depends after all on more than just a circular designed product. Companies execute common activities that, directly or indirectly, lead to an efficient and durable engagement with natural resources. We call this circular chain collaboration. To achieve this, different links in the chain must work together. That is why circular chain collaboration is central to the Red Threads 2023 Report.


'The Red Threads 2023' report

Summary six threads

From practice, it appears that the realisation of a successful circular chain collaboration is not easy. In previous editions of the Red Threads, Versnellingshuis presented the most important challenges in circular entrepreneurship, for instance; the competition with linear alternatives and the attraction of finances. Companies experience additional difficulties in chain collaboration. In the Red Threads 2023, these difficulties are shown. Additionally, they included an overview of good examples: initiatives that take away challenges or companies who are capable of doing that.

The Versnellingshuis sees six red threads in circular chain collaboration:

Red Thread 1

Attention for circular chain collaboration grows!

We see more innovative collaborations taking off. Although reasons vary between companies and sectors, there are four reasons that are constantly indicated by companies: decreasing certainty of delivery and rising resources prices, societal pressure, the input of binding measures and chances for new business cases.

Red thread 2

Social factors need more attention

More than technological innovations, the circular chain realisation ask for a social innovation. How do you handle conflicting  interests? How do you incorporate people? How can you keep them interested and enthusiastic? Creating a common vision, open communication and clear agreements are essential.

Red thread 3

Mobilising the chain is challenging

Mobilising the chain causes a big challenge, especially for small and medium enterprises. This is especially happens in the case of complex, widespread, international chains. Initators are saying that companies are not willing to cooperate because of different commercial interests, competition law concerns, lack of trust in the value of cooperating, and a lack of capacity and means.

Red tread 4

Companies lack insight in the chain

The lack of insight in the chain makes it difficult for companies to develop fitting solutions. Companies indicate that when developing policies and methods to increase chain transparency, attention should focus on the ease in which companies can register data, the willingness of companies to share the required data and the organisation of data governance.

Red thread 5

A good process supervisor is essential

Companies see the appointment of a process supervisor as essential in circular chain collaboration. They are therefore positive about (financial) instruments with which they can incorporate such a process supervisor. However, it can be better than that. Companies need more long-time, structural support and help with taking the first steps.

Red thread 6

The division of the costs and benefits causes difficulties

It is a challenge for companies to divide the costs and benefits evenly between partners. To find a solution that works for all parties is often a big quest. Additionally, the financing of the cooperation and the bear of the (financial) risks causes a challenge.