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Holland: a small country with a big recycling legacy

Benedicte Couckuyt (centre) says Hermion exports up to 90% of its machinery

The Netherlands – Over 700 companies with an involvement in recycling are scattered across the 41 543 km² of land that makes up the Netherlands. This includes some 30 manufacturers with well-known names like Bollegraaf, Bronneberg and Hermion, catering to the needs of a sector that comprises more than 155 metal recyclers alone. Some 60 businesses focus on plastics recycling while the nation is home to 130 waste management service providers. In addition, 30 firms are active in the waste-to-energy field and deliver almost 12% of all sustainable energy produced in the Netherlands.

According to latest available data from Eurostat, the Netherlands generated 475kg of municipal waste per person in 2014, of which 25% was recycled and another 27% was incinerated.

While many member states are still struggling to meet EU-mandated targets to recycle 50% of household and similar waste by 2020, the Netherlands reached 51% as early as 2013.

With a population of a little over 17 million, the country fondly called Holland ranks 65th on the world list of most-densely populated countries. The Dutch economy is known to be solid, with a per-capita GDP of Euro 50 339 placing the country in 15th position globally.

According to Benedicte Couckuyt of recycling technology expert Hermion, the success can be attributed to the persistence of Dutch entrepreneurs and the fact that they are ‘not afraid of taking risks’. She comments that prospects for the country’s plastics recycling market are ‘promising’, especially for Hermion thanks to its closed-loop system that offers efficient waste water treatment.

As one might expect for manufacturers headquartered in a nation known as a prominent global trader, exports are important to Dutch businesses like Hermion. In fact, the company says exports make up as much as 90% of its total sales. Commercially speaking, the central location of the Netherlands in Europe a big plus, Couckuyt affirms. ‘It is an ideal location. Also, Dutch recycling players have a very good international reputation,’ she notes.

Besides relying on a healthy dose of intuition, Hermion staff underline the importance of ‘not just selling the equipment but the whole package’. As Couckuyt puts it: ‘We make sure the return on investment happens as soon as possible.’

Stay tuned! Dutch developments and special projects will be reported in our upcoming October issue.

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