Compared to large established firms, circular start-ups develop more ambitious circularity strategies and engage in circular innovations. This is concluded from a new white paper published by Utrecht University researchers Julian Kirchherr, Thomas Bauwens and Marko Hekkert in partnership with ING, Circle Economy and the Amsterdam Economic Board.
A transition towards a circular economy holds great promise for achieving a sustainable economic development. Yet, although the Netherlands has been one of Europe’s frontrunners when it comes to the recycling of materials, with 80% of all the waste generated being recycled, downcycling rather than upcycling remains the rule, resulting in recycled material of lower value than the original. Moreover, far less attention has been paid to prevention, reuse and repair. The white paper outlines the roles played by new entrepreneurial ventures in the circular economy (called circular start-ups) to accelerate the transition towards a circular economy.
A circular kids bicycle
Take the example of BikeFlip, a circular start-up recently founded by five students from Utrecht University. The young company wanted to find a solution to the many abandoned and neglected kids bikes in the Netherlands. It refurbishes and offers second-hand kids bicycles on a subscription model for a fixed monthly fee, including the maintenance and repair of bikes. When the child outgrows the bicycle, the customer chooses a new one and returns the old one, so BikeFlip can deliver it to another customer. This start-up can thus truly contribute to a circular bike economy in the Netherlands.