Field: Circular economy, Dissemination of information, Sustainable manufacturing, Sustainable tourism
Global Technical function: Certifying, Grant funding, Manufacturing
Technical Function Unit: Eco-designing, Eco-manufacturing, Enhancing the cooperation, Labelling, Networking, Performance standard, Providing consultancy, Public grant funding for demonstration, Training
Geographic Area: Netherlands
Type of actors: Citizens, Industry, NGOs, Universities

Cradle to Cradle (C2C) โ€“ the Dutch Region of Venlo towards a circular economy

Referred to as a global capital of Cradle to Cradle (C2C), the Dutch city of Venlo is the first municipality in the world to have fully adopted the principle of C2C on a regional scale. Engaging citizens, businesses and local authorities, the region is transforming into an innovative platform employing reverse logistics for a new circular economy with safe and healthy products. 

The challenge

Linear economic models and the lifestyles that feed on them deplete finite reserves to create products that end up in landfills or incinerators. In contrast to the concept of “Cradle to Grave”, illustrating our resource-to-waste lifestyle, the ”closed loop” or “Cradle to Cradle” approach to production processes seeks to create systems that are not only efficient but also essentially waste- free.


The measure

The Venlo Region, located in the southeast of the Netherlands, is the first region in the world to embrace the C2C principle on a large scale, committed to awarding public grant funding for demonstration. Also known as a circular economy, C2C is based on the principle of sustainable manufacturing and complete recycling in construction and production processes.

The Cradle to Cradle[1] Products Innovation Institute, headquartered in the USA, opened its first European product certification training centre in Venlo in 2012. The centre is part of an accelerated effort to provide product designers and manufacturers with a continuously improving performance standard to guide eco-manufacturingeco-design and the creation of safe and healthy products. The Institute’s aim is to provide support to business to develop new products, and to create a platform to encourage European companies to become more familiar with the benefits and process of Cradle to Cradle® product certification[2]. The city of Venlo has shown leadership in adopting the Cradle to Cradle® product for certifying and labelling as a driver of the region’s economic development, and many large companies in the region have joined. Venlo also hosts and partly funds the C2C ExpoLAB, which is providing consultancy services, workshops, project support etc, and also facilitates the C2C-Centre, which is actively involved in the gathering and dissemination of information on Cradle to Cradle®.

The Venlo Region developed diverse initiatives to test the C2C concept (non-exclusive list):

  • The City of Venlo built a new City Hall Venlo as a state-of-the-art example of C2C design for its residents and businesses.
  • The C2C showroom is located in the innovative “Innovatoren building”. It hosts meetings and workshops in rooms with C2C certified furniture, natural light and controlled for humidity and CO2.
  • C2C Education: Venlo together wit C2C ExpoLAB initiated the world’s first C2C Master, and offers other circular economy education activities to students.
  • Greenport Venlo supports networking of agroindustry, logistics, industribution, manufacturing and sustainable tourism operations with C2C as a key principle.
  • Venlo GreenPark, a state-of the-art business park with innovative enterprises in buildings of C2C architectural design.

Lessons Learnt

C2C has quickly become the main organising principle for the development of the Venlo region, and is successful in supporting private demand. It is seen as a transferable economic model with the capacity for enhancing the cooperation of all major regional players from local governments, industry, civil society organisations and NGOsuniversities/educational institutions, and citizens.

Further deployment

Venlo demonstrates that local experimentation with the C2C approach at the regional level has been successful and the concept is nearly implemented at full scale. (Maturity Level estimated to be 5 on the GML scale). C2C principles are transferable to regions with similar governance and structure.

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[1] Cradle to Cradle® is a registered trademark of McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry, LLC (MBDC). Cradle to Cradle Certified CM is a certification mark licensed exclusively for the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute. For more information about the Cradle to Cradle Products Inovation Institute and a list of the full program criteria, visit www.c2ccertified.org.

[2] The Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM Products Standard is a multi-attribute, continuous improvement methodology that evaluates products across five categories of human and environmental health.