The Next Economy
ASU Partners With Dutch City to Develop First ‘Circular Economy’ Regional Plan

Arizona State University (ASU) and the Dutch Municipality of Haarlemmermeer, along with private partners in the Haarlemmermeer region, have come together to create the world’s first regional plan based on the principles of a circular economy.

The project, “Haarlemmermeer Beyond Sustainability,” will be coordinated by the Global Sustainability Solutions Center (GSSC) at Haarlemmermeer, a program within the Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives at ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability. The center will partner with the municipality, Park 20I20 and SADC (Schiphol Area Development Company) to create a regional visioning and planning strategy that will close resource loops in the most efficient, economical and sustainable manner possible.

ASU’s center in Haarlemmermeer will act as facilitator for the municipality and various stakeholders in the region to define and outline the strategic plan. The project includes designing the circular economy strategy and identifying closed-loop energy, water, matter and other resource cycles that are pragmatic, market-based and adaptable for the region.

“Sustainability is not a voluntary option, we don’t see it as a choice. It is our duty and inevitably the new way of living — the new economy,” said John Nederstigt, alderman of the Municipality of Haarlemmermeer.

The visioning process is beginning this month with an executive working group of leaders from local businesses, communities and the municipal government to establish project definitions and outcomes. ASU researchers will then develop the strategy document with assistance from Dutch university partners.

Situated just southwest of Amsterdam in the basin of a drained lake, and with Schipol Airport as a primary economic driver, Haarlemmermeer hopes to create what it calls a “sustainable silicon valley” where business, research and education institutions freely collaborate.

ASU also has partnered with the City of Phoenix to launch a citywide campaign to encourage residents of the greater Phoenix area — the 10th-fastest-growing metropolitan area in the US — to turn trash into resources. "Reimagine Phoenix" aims to guide residents of the region to routinely reduce, reuse, recycle and reconsider their consumption patterns with a multi-pronged, citywide strategy based on unique private-public partnerships and cross-sector collaboration.

In other ASU news, a design student at the university recently designed a new origami-inspired, waste-eliminating toothpaste tube designed to release every drop of paste. Colgate has expressed interest in the design.

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