Circular Buiksloterham programme

City, Country

Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Initiative/ Policy

The City of Amsterdam has committed to the circular economy as a key pillar of its medium and long term sustainability strategy, as presented in the Sustainability Agenda adopted in 2015. The Agenda sets the ambition for Amsterdam to become a global leader in the transition to the circular economy, leveraging wide collaborations with all the plethora of city actors and ‘reinforcing energies and powers of perseverance already present in society’. In the same year, the City commissioned a comprehensive report into the potential for transitioning to a circular economy that was presented in the publication Amsterdam Circular: Vision and Roadmap for City and Region (City of Amsterdam 2016). The report shows that a circular economy offers new opportunities for the city, identifying areas in which circular business models can be applied and highlighting strategies to accomplish practical implementation of sustainable solutions. Within a clear and well-articulated strategy for long term sustainable urban development, the Municipality has been pioneering an experiments-based approach to the circular economy, supporting a constellation of both public and private-led projects and initiatives. One example is the Circular Buiksloterham programme (Metabolic, Studioninedots, and DELVA Landscape Architects 2015) , promoted by the Municipality with the goal to create a circular urban district in a former industrial district. The programme serves as an incubator for circular, smart and biobased development, developing across multiple sectors and domains such as energy, biodiversity, quality of life and mobility.

Initiative's relationship to REFLOW

  • Co-creation design & framework

  • Technical infrastructure & software

  • Creating & managing circular flows

  • Collaborative governance & urban strategies

  • Pilots framework

  • Capacity building


District level

Period of implementation


Core vision

The vision underpinning Buiksloterham is to give life to a circular, smart and bio-based district with exemplary performance on a set of systemic measures of urban development and environmental quality. This vision is articulated into eight overarching goals spanning energy self-sufficiency, zero waste with a near 100% circular material flow and recovery from waste water, regeneration and restoration of natural ecosystems, zero-emissions mobility, vibrant local economies, high quality and livable environment that are inclusive and respectful of diversity. The vision of a Circular Buiksloterham therefore reflects in an area of continuous innovation and experimentation through a strong civic engagement and a resilient local economy.

Implementation and governance

For the purpose of understanding the current scenario of material flows in Buiksloterham and Amsterdam at large, the Metabolic’s Urban Metabolism Scan methodology was applied in the territory. A comprehensive picture of this urban area was complemented with architectural and landscape scanning and a series of stakeholder interviews. The study included an evaluation of energy and material flows, biodiversity, environmental conditions, socio-economic factors, an assessment of local stakeholders, policies and strategic plans, and the health and wellness of citizens. The urban metabolism scan allowed the stakeholders the fundamental inputs to develop a vision for a circular Buiksloterham, an action plan and roadmaps identifying key aspects and its potential interventions.

Buiksloterham’s Action Plan provides a framework for a long-term transformation to be achieved through clear steps. Such steps are prioritized in terms of their potential impact and provide further insight into the potential pathways for achieving the vision. Actions fall under a plethora of domains, including energy and material flows, biodiversity, environmental conditions, socio-economic data, assessment of local stakeholders, policies and strategic plans, and factors that may influence health and wellness of individuals living in the area.

Defined through co-creation and systemic design-driven processes, the Buiksloterham’s Action Plan refers to a set of resources from the local residents to developers. This clear guidance provides ambitious goals into everyday activities for local residents, both in the short and long run. The Action Plan focuses on five systemic interventions:

  • Buiksloterham Living Lab, that reflects to the experimental part of the district by exploring new technologies and management approaches;

  • The implementation of inclusive governance structures for managing the development and stimulate the process of Circular Buiksloterham in a collaborative approach;

  • New financial vehicles and incentive structures for investment, through tax and credit schemes, the implementation of a local incentive system and the establishment of reverse tenders for challenges and goals;

  • The use of urban sensing and open data infrastructure to support communication and monitoring processes to improve efficiency and transparency to the public;

  • Implementation of neighborhood Action Plan, which provides up-to-date guidelines to follow the long term goal and its vision.

Circular Buiksloterham is working on the establishment of an inclusive governance structure for the successful development of a circular neighborhood. The goal of this structure is to keep a collective enforcement of progress towards the defined area’s goals, following a governance system that reflects a consistent voice of both large and small stakeholders in the development process. It consists of a steering committee that guards the vision, sets the ground rules, monitors progress, decides on tenders and experiments; a territorial association with focus on stakeholder involvement and development of pilots and; and a local utility cooperative that supports large scale investments projects for energy production, mobility or nutrient recovery.

Other methods of stakeholder engagement have also been applied over the Action Plan development. One example is the Circularity Manifesto, which is a commitment from the manufacturing companies in Buiksloterham to putting in their best effort at managing the full life cycle of their products. This manifesto is part of a strategy for making Buiksloterham a truly zero-waste neighborhood, by supporting the local manufacturing of products, which should be designed for disassembly, remanufacturing, and optimized material recovery.

Results, impacts and learnings

Buiksloterham is well-known for its strong community and civic participation. District relationships have been strengthened through a huge variety of shared services including the online community portal, the use of local time-banking tool, shared mobility and sustainable self-building. Citizens in Buiksloterham participate in the care and governance of the neighborhood actively. The results presented in the Action Plan are the outcome of an interactive process of analysis, modeling, and stakeholder consultations. Many stakeholder sessions were carried out in order to co-create a shared vision for a Circular Buiksloterham and to define the interventions for the circular transition. A group of decision-makers was also invited to align around an Action Plan with interventions options for bringing the vision into reality.


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