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Blog January 2024

Sustainability and the Circular Economy: Interview with Wendy de Wild of NVRD

Conor Dowd

AMCS Director of Product Marketing

Welcome to our first interview of 2024 with thought leaders in Sustainability and the Circular Economy. Today our interview is with Wendy de Wild, CEO of NVRD (Royal Dutch Association for Waste and Cleaning Services) which represents the interests of its members; Dutch municipalities and their municipal service companies.

Who is the NVRD in the Netherlands and what is its role?

The NVRD was founded in 1907 and it connects and represents Dutch municipalities and their municipal service companies. It has a wide brief in terms of influencing public policy on waste and recycling as well as sharing best practices between its members in areas such as recycling, waste prevention, safety, and sustainability. It takes a leading role in shaping policies such as EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) that will support the transition to a circular economy.

What role does the NVRD take in promoting best practices in recycling and sustainability among its members?

NVRD aims to connect members so they can share and learn first-hand from each other’s experiences of implementing best practices across every area. A key part of this exercise is the annual NVRD Benchmark where members participate in a series of workshops and share and compare performance data and approaches on both resource management and costs. This encourages them to learn from each other and to exchange experiences and best practices in benchmark meetings. This report is published annually and is made available to all parties.

What measures  would you like the national government to take to support your members activities?

We enjoy a good working relationship with the Dutch government.

The Government has set ambitious targets for residual waste (<100 kilos per inhabitant) but we believe that the Government can do more to promote best practices nationally in recycling and waste prevention that have been already implemented by our members in their service areas.

For example, it is clear that our DIFTAR policy (Dutch Pay as your Throw policy to financially incentivize recycling) is effective in reducing residual waste and there is potential for this to be more widely adopted across the country. It could be set as a guiding national policy and municipalities should only opt out if they could provide evidence that it would not work in their service area.

Also, in safety, there is scope for the Government to take steps to mitigate the risks and costs of damage by nitrous oxide canisters placed incorrectly in the residual waste stream.

At a broader Government and EU level, we need to look at adopting policy levels that will promote the re-use and repair of items as well as tax incentives to promote skills and labour to genuinely support these activities.

Does the NVRD play a role in promoting safety in the sector?

We encourage members to share best practices in this area. Annually, we measure incidents and their causes. In addition, we raise awareness of the risks and mitigations for hazards such as the incorrect disposal of nitrous oxide canisters (often referred to as laughing gas) and batteries in residual and recycling collections.

Our research indicates that municipalities experienced additional costs of €57 million spread across both collecting (€17 million) and extracting nitrous oxide canisters (€40 million) from residual waste to ensure compliant processing.

How is evolving digital technology impacting the sector?

Digitalization and data are key to the transition to a circular economy as data can inform all our policies and environmental initiatives. The importance of data is clear in areas such as EPR where it will impact the performance of these schemes including costs, efficiency, and most importantly environmental impact.

One of our initiatives at NVRD has been to improve the quality of our members data by proposing a new taxonomy of waste related data definitions called the Branch Stuur Information (Industry Management Information) and we believe that this can help all stakeholders ,especially for our members gain a better shared understanding of municipal waste data, leading to improved reporting for areas such as CSRD and the LMA.

Artificial intelligence and analytics will clearly also help us make sense of this data and take evidence-based decisions to support sustainability.

What are some of the key challenges for your members in 2024?

We view EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) as a potential key policy instrument in the transition to a circular economy, if improved and supported by other policy instruments. Currently the focus is too much on collecting waste and recycling instead of eco design, re-use and decrease consumption. NVRD represents the interests of our members in ensuring that rollout of EPR across an expanding list of products (textiles, diapers, etc.) will be clear and fair for our members. There needs to be clarity on the responsibilities of both producers and municipalities and the costs of EPR need to reflect the new producer responsibilities. This will be a key issue for our members in 2024.

About Wendy de Wild

Wendy has been director of the NVRD since 2020. She has been committed to planet & people ever since she was young, so contributing to a circular economy truly feels like her cup of tea. Previously, she served as regional director with ProRail, the national rail infrastructure manager. Her educational background varies from a BBA in hotel management, a Master in PR & Advertising at Florida International and a bachelor in political science.

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