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Netherlands nourishes its entrepreneurs


The Netherlands is full of stories about free-thinking entrepreneurs who are concerned with the circular economy and the supply chain. As a relatively small and densely populated country, it has had to be innovative when dealing with resource management as a matter of necessity.

Repair cafés: These can be permanent sites or ad-hoc meetings where people volunteer to fix household goods. The initiative was started in Amsterdam by Martine Postma, and an international network has been created of more than 1,100 repair cafés in countries as far afield as Chile, India and Australia.

Plastic Whale: A company set up five years ago by Amsterdam resident Marius Smit to reuse plastic waste dredged from canals in order to build boats. It now has a fleet of six boats entirely made out of Amsterdam canal plastic. It describes itself as “the first professional plastic fishing company in the world”.

Braam says: “Smit quit his job to set up Plastic Whale. After some difficulties it was a success, because now he has six boats and is expanding his business. But as soon as there is no plastic left in the canals he is out of business. I don’t think he’ll mind.”

Fairphone: This Dutch company believes in “addressing the full lifespan of mobile phones, including use, reuse and safe recycling” and that its responsibility does not end with sales. It also wants to know where resources came from, and whether any child labour was involved in the supply chain. It has developed a phone that can be repaired and faulty parts replaced (pictured).

Braam says: “It’s silly that a mobile phone is worth e300 (£230), then we’re happy to get just e2 out in terms of iron and a bit of gold. It’s value destruction. So they made a modular phone where you can replace parts without having to throw away the whole thing.”

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