Frouke Pieters, task manager for circular economy in the municipality of Leiden, illustrated to us how they do this. She also told us how they defined their strategy and what they will be working on in the coming years.

As background, it is good to know that the municipality of Leiden (almost 125,000 inhabitants) is a European City of Science and a highly educated service city, with little trade and industry and mainly activity in the service and health sectors. This partly determines the way in which circular economy is implemented as a theme in the municipality, because bioscience, pharma and other innovative sectors are strong there. Sustainability is a theme that is in the portfolio of 3 aldermen, and is therefore high on the agenda. Since 2019, circular economy is one of the three 'tasks' within the theme of sustainability, alongside energy transition and climate adaptation/biodiversity greening, and with the new college since 2018, the focus has been put on implementation/action, where before it remained on awareness & inspiration.

Leiden's Circular Economy Strategy 2020-2023 is supported by 4 pillars: Socially Responsible Purchasing, Circular Construction, Adding Value to Material Flows, and Learning and Communication. In addition, there are links with waste policy and other social issues.

In 2016, Leiden started using a material flow analysis as a basis. VITO conducted a similar analysis earlier for the city of Ghent. The construction-related waste streams and waste policy of companies as the most extensive streams were combined with direct and indirect role identification of the municipality to formulate actions. <see slidedeck for more details>.

Next, the internal involvement and responsibilities were mapped out, and an appropriate internal governance structure was drawn up. External involvement must also be actively organised: what do you want to achieve with which target group, and with which message do you want to reach them? And, of course, all of this must be able to be financed, so it was nice to get an insight into how 'circular economy and waste' is budgeted by the municipality of Leiden.

Finally, communication also appears to be the basis for success in Leiden. After all, a good communication strategy increases the power of the idea. Storytelling is essential to maintain and increase support. It is important to actively use the acquired support power by letting your target groups shape ideas and actions. The municipality can then support this. Learning is necessary, by trial and error. As Frouke put it so delicately: "Building a circular economy together, experimenting and sharing learning lessons is the only way to achieve a circular economy.

Download the complete slidedeck of the plenary session of the Round Table Circular City here.

Any questions?

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