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

Sustainability: the societal challenge of our time. Due to climate change and a critical perspective on the use of raw materials, this issue is high up on the agenda of companies and public authorities. The most important part of the solution is a circular economy. TNO is working on a number of applications and measures to realise this

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49% less CO2 emissions in 2030 than there were in 1990. This is the objective of the Dutch Climate Agreement. This figure is simply an intermediary step towards 2050. According to the Paris Climate Agreement, global warming must by then be limited to 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius. By contributing to the transition agendas, TNO is making a case for these ambitious goals.

The circular economy

TNO is working on applications to achieve a fully circular economy by 2050. These applications are based on the idea that cities are not only there to be lived in, but also serve as a huge source of reusable materials. We’re working, for example, on technologies to produce new, high-grade plastics from discarded plastics. We’re also developing ways to make construction more sustainable.

With our technical, social and economic expertise, we help public authorities and companies on their way to becoming more sustainable. Through an integrated view of possible scenarios and direct lines of communication with the most diverse areas of expertise within TNO, we can find the right answer to every question – regardless of whether it concerns a dilemma surrounding policy or a technological challenge.

Environment and climate

For a healthy environment, we build models and sensors that assess the quality of the living environment and industrial safety. These include sensors that measure specific substances in the groundwater or the air, such as particulate matter from traffic, emissions from agriculture and microplastics. We’re also building measurement networks to detect sources of disturbance, including harmful noise emissions.

For the climate, we’re developing models to monitor the agreements made in Paris and to take control of climate change. Where do greenhouse gases occur, how do they develop and what can public authorities and companies do about them? Using satellite observations, we analyse harmful emissions in the atmosphere while creating ground-based models and small sensors to measure and predict exposure to airborne particles and greenhouse gases.

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Nobody knows what the future will bring. But there does exist the ultimate goal of a circular economy by 2050. This is why it’s TNO’s ambition to reduce CO2 emissions in our country, reuse more raw materials, implement recycling technologies for circular plastics, use 30% less new materials in the construction industry and reduce emissions.


Marinke Wijngaard, MSc


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