The Circular Hub is transforming Limburg into a circular society, and the Chemelot Industrial Park and Brightlands Chemelot Campus located at the site form its beating heart.
Limburg will be the first European circular junction where local residents, SMEs and industry will take a careful approach to how they handle raw materials, energy sources and the environment in which they do business, work, live and relax. Inspired by the national, provincial and local governments’ Interadministrative Program (IBP), a broad alliance of companies, knowledge institutes and government agencies have spent the last six months brainstorming about their ambitions. These efforts have led to the brand-new Circular Hub Development Agenda.
June 18, the Circular Hub Development Agenda was presented via a live video conference by broad alliance of companies, knowledge institutes and government agencies to members of the national government as part of the Interadministrative Program (IBP).
For local residents, the Circular Hub will lead to a CO₂-free living environment where waste serves as the raw material for new products. Entrepreneurs and industry will be able to achieve economic growth, and the arrival of new businesses and new residents will create opportunities for city centers and residential areas. New jobs in the circular economy will lure young people to Limburg, to build their future and enjoy educational opportunities at the senior vocational, higher professional and university levels. These are the objectives set out in the brand-new Circular Hub Development Agenda, drawn up by a broad alliance of companies, government agencies and knowledge institutes.
Bert Kip, chairman of the alliance and CEO of Brightlands Chemelot Campus:
“We have to speed up the transition to a sustainable economy. All you have to do is look at all of the products around you to see that chemistry is inextricably linked to our daily lives. Among other things, this means that production processes the world over have to be redefined, and green and recyclable raw materials must replace fossil fuels. This transition to sustainability is only possible if the chemical industry takes the lead. And this demands new methods and new chemical processes. Chemelot Industrial Park and Brightlands Chemelot Campus are part of what makes this region very well-positioned to achieve this, which in turn offers major opportunities for Limburg and the Euregion. The Chemelot Region is the ultimate location for the first Circular Hub in Europe.”
The Circular Hub Development Agenda has been drawn up by a broad alliance consisting of the municipality of Sittard-Geleen, the Province of Limburg, Chemelot Industrial Park, Brightlands Chemelot Campus, DSM, Brightsite, Brightlands Materials Center, AMIBM, Maastricht University, Zuyd University of Applied Sciences, Vista and CHILL. The idea for the Circular Hub arose after the national government asked the Association of Provincial Authorities (IPO) and the Southern Limburg division of the Association of Municipalities (VNG) to become one of the four IBP testing grounds in late 2019. The aim of this Interadministrative Program (IBP) is to foster innovative collaboration to achieve the goal of creating a “regional economy as an accelerator for the national economy.” Representing the VNG, Alderman Pieter Meekels of the municipality of Sittard-Geleen is one of the principals of this IBP.
Over the past six months, the parties have worked on the Circular Hub Development Agenda which contains several concrete initiatives and ideas for new projects. Among other benefits, they view the innovative ecosystem and the combination of global players with a presence at the Chemelot Industrial Park, including producers such as Sabic, Sekisui, Arlanxeo, OCI, Fibrant, AnQore and DSM, and innovative major players based at Brightlands Chemelot Campus with its research institutes, educational institutions and top facilities such as laboratories and various pilot plants as being the unique combination that is necessary to arrive at innovation in chemistry. This is a combination that is unique in Europe, according to the alliance, also emphasizing the Chemelot Region’s central location in what is known as the ARRRA (the area between Antwerp, Rotterdam and the Ruhr Region), the largest chemistry cluster in the world and home to 40% of the total European chemical production.
The transition to green production methods also contributes to the Netherlands’ earning capacity and is in line with Dutch Minister Wiebes’ Groeibrief outlining the long-term strategy for growth in the Netherlands. From a regional standpoint, the realization of the Circular Hub is good for the Euregion. It is expected to lead to the creation of thousands of additional jobs, vacancies that Pieter Meekels, Alderman of the municipality of Sittard-Geleen, believes will be easily filled.
Pieter Meekels, Alderman of the municipality of Sittard-Geleen:
“As a region we are very adaptable. We have, after all, already experienced major changes, from small-scale agriculture to large-scale coal mining to chemistry and materials. We can draw strength from the qualities arising from our regional economic DNA and our residents’ entrepreneurial and inquisitive mentality.”
The necessary concrete initiatives have already been developed in the Chemelot Region such as the development of new materials and recycling activities. To list a few examples: Ioniqa is processing used PET plastic to convert it into new raw materials, carpet waste is already being converted into raw materials for mattresses, Sabic is starting a plastic recycling plant, and a brand new solar farm is already supplying part of the necessary electricity.
Loek Radix, Chemelot CEO:
“Based on successful examples and the experience gained, we are accelerating our transition trajectory to a circular economy. We’re not just starting out; we’re already underway with experimenting, implementing and scaling up promising circular innovations.”
Deputy Ruud Burlet of the Province of Limburg:
“I am very proud of this development. We are currently in the starting blocks to organize broad support and participation in the first Circular Hub outside of the Chemelot Region. This region will soon be known as the pioneer in circular entrepreneurship, circular innovations and circular education. It’s the place to be for talent committed to sustainable economic growth and broad social prosperity. The sum total of the Chemelot Circular Hub and an inspiring living environment make this region an attractive partner for investments.”
“The transition to a Circular Hub requires major investment and broad support from the business community, education, science, government and citizens,” Bert Kip says. “In doing so, the development agenda goes beyond just what’s in Limburg’s best interests. It is more of a national agenda for action, requiring support and participation from stakeholders and partners at the regional, national, European and global levels. It’s an invitation for all of these parties to join us.”
The Circular Hub Development Agenda will be discussed by various regional and national bodies in the coming months.