Seven tips: “How to introduce circularity within the local government”

In the Netherlands, we have agreed that we will be 50% circular in 9 years’ time. By 2050, we must be 100% circular. It has been calculated that we are now at 24.5% in the Netherlands. Globally we are at 8.6% (side note: 2 years ago, it was 9.1%!). So basically, we’re standing still! So, urgency is necessary, the clock is ticking people!Hereby my experience in seven tips in the field of circular working within local governments. With these tips you can get started yourself to make the difference we need.

1: Craftmanship

Introducing circularity within a local government is easier said than done. There are a lot of issues that also need to be addressed. Think of climate adaptation, energy transition and then also circularity. It is everything on top of each other. Everything is coming at once and everything is the most important thing in the world. But you can’t pay equal attention to all topics at the same time. As an employee of a municipality, it may feel like a wave is coming at you. How can I stay in front of it? This requires smart organization, considering the political winds and lobbying of trade associations. So, craftsmanship is needed!

2: Government as a launching customer

We need to change our organization and activities. Everyone is in favor of a change, but no one wants to change. In addition, there is no one to guide you. There is no manual and there are only a limited number of good examples. You feel like you’re on your own. Maybe you are… But it is the role of the government to take the lead in this. We are the launching customer. We have the (taxpayers) money and we give the orders to market parties. We can bear risks because we cannot go bankrupt…. If WE don’t do it, it’s not going to happen!

3: Failure is data

As a circularity project manager, it is sometimes really pioneering. It often feels like swimming against the current. You also have to beware of the “bears on the road”. Pioneering is also accepting that sometimes you can fail. Stimulating innovation is only possible by failing a lot and quickly. What happens, happens and should not be seen as failure, but as data! Think of failure as new information that you could learn from. The only threat that still exists is that you fail too slowly, causing you to learn too slowly.

4: Our world is complex, learn to live with it

Everything is connected to everything. Our world has become complex. It’s something we must learn to live with. This requires smart techniques and skills to find your way around. A government must be seen as the spider in the web between supply and demand. 

5: Get you own “tinder” marketplace

Supply and demand must be linked. Especially if we want to become more circular within our public space. But there are no good work agreements about this. If you want to work circularly, you need data from your public space. You need to know what the quality and quantities are of the materials you have. But you also need to have a marketplace where you can find new uses for your materials. A “tinder” for materials where you look for the right match yourself. A traditional marketplace tool is just like fishing, you just must hope that something comes along. That doesn’t work in this fast-paced society. So how do you link data to a matching site? I think I have found the solution!

6: Use Service Design!

Circularity is not a technical issue, but a people issue! And there for an organizational issue. Technically, everything already has been sorted out. But how do you make it affordable and manageable within existing organizations and processes? How do you find your route in this jungle of bureaucracy? Untangling all interests and finding spaces in the project to fit in circular chances. Make use of Service Design as a method. This helps, trust me!

7: Apply for a grant

To work on a project, you need money. There often is no internal money, and you do not want to get into an endless discussion and convince people that your idea is the best idea… So, apply for a grant, get there the money you need. Carry out the project as you planned. 

Okay, now you know all the things you need to know to get started on your own. So, what are you waiting for? Get started!

Need help? Contact me.

Sander (… always trying to save the world)

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