Towards Circular and Self-Sufficient Wadden Islands

Analyzing material flows in the unique context of the 5 Wadden Islands

The five Wadden Islands aim to transition to a circular economy to become more self-sufficient and sustainable. Through a Material Flow Analysis (MFA) for each island, Metabolic identified resource flow patterns and key areas for improvement, helping to pinpoint bottlenecks and opportunities for better resource management. As a result, several initiatives and interventions were proposed to support this transition.

  • Client: Samenwerkingsverband de Waddeneilanden
  • Date: 2023

Transition to a circular economy of extra value for islands

The five Wadden Islands aim to transition to a circular economy, which comes with both challenges and opportunities. On the one hand, due to their limited space and isolated location, the Wadden Islands are dependent on imported goods and have limited space for waste management. On the other hand, their unique position offers opportunities for sustainability and circularity as they are rich in natural resources and have a close-knit community. Transitioning towards a circular economy is of double value for the Wadden Islands because it will support the islands in becoming more self-sufficient and contribute to a sustainable future.


Material Flow Analysis for each island and identifying hotspots

In order to transition toward a circular economy, insights into the current state of resource flows is essential. We conducted a Material Flow Analysis (MFA) for each Wadden Island to understand the quantitative and qualitative use of resources, goods production, and waste processing. The MFA identifies how resources flow to and from the islands and are processed. The analysis, shown in a Sankey diagram, highlights key areas for improvement in resource management. It also identifies priority material flows and responsible sectors, pinpointing bottlenecks in the transition to a circular economy. In addition, company scans were done to close key material loops.


Concrete circular interventions and initiatives

The MFA’s and company scans resulted in essential information to start realizing a circular economy on the Wadden Islands. Based on the results, several concrete interventions and initiatives were proposed. These include pilots for the extensification of agriculture and providing fibers for natural building materials. A hub for construction materials will be established for renovating holiday homes. Additionally, packaging-free supermarkets and hospitality services will be introduced, alongside energy and water-saving measures in accommodations. With the analyses and recommendations, the Wadden Islands are a step further in becoming circular and self-sufficient.

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