The Circular Economy and the Environment: 'Directing and accelerating sustainability'

Improving sustainability may well be the single greatest societal challenge of our time. The issue is high on government and business agendas, both nationally and internationally. However, the scope and complexity of the problem is causing much uncertainty about the best available solutions and the required speed of their implementation. This is where TNO can help.

The fact that we need to become a sustainable society is clear, but how, for instance, should we implement the agreements made at the climate conference that was held in Paris at the end of 2015? The Circular Economy & Environment (CEE) unit is helping to concretize and direct the transition to a sustainable society. The ultimate goal is the creation of a ‘circular economy’, in which the re-use of products and raw materials is maximized and the destruction of value is minimized.


We are helping clients to reach the agreement’s raw materials target (a 50% reduction in the use of primary raw materials by 2030). “With our domain knowledge and our technical, societal and economic expertise we can offer companies a compass in their transition to a circular economy. What sort of impact would be brought about by a change of materials use, expressed in Euros or in CO2 emissions? Which approach would have the greatest effect? What kinds of transition can a company or a region bring about independently? These are the kinds of questions we’re focusing on. Our wide-ranging expertise and domain knowledge mean that we can offer appropriate solutions to the construction and synthetics industries, for instance,” explains Marinke Wijngaard, managing director of the CEE unit.
Examples of this include very specific high-tech solutions enabling circular production techniques, the upgrading of waste streams into new raw materials, circular design techniques for mattresses, the chemical recycling of carpet material, the production of aromatics from organic waste, the circular manufacture of concrete, and the logistic optimization of waste material supply and demand in the construction industry.


Besides our activities directed towards accelerating the transition to a circular economy, we work towards creating a healthier living environment and a healthier climate. We are developing sensors and models that identify and chart the quality of the living environment and, for instance, industrial risks and safety. This concerns, for example, sensors for specific substances in groundwater, mobile sensors used to measure air quality in urban areas, and measurement networks that can quickly locate problem sources. We are also developing climate and emission models to be used across Europe to monitor, for instance, the Paris climate targets, combining ground-based observations and satellite data.

Our ambition is to significantly expand our contribution towards the realization of a circular economy, both in terms of gross national product and the creation of a healthy, safe, and sustainable living environment. We want to accelerate this process, and to do so we are collaborating with government authorities, knowledge institutes, and companies working in construction, infrastructure, and synthetics. Interested? Then read on. Want to work with us? Get in touch!


Marinke Wijngaard, MSc


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