Flanders and Europe hardly have any raw materials. We are very dependent on import from abroad, as a result of which geo-political relations and volatile raw material prices offer an uncertain long-term perspective. Moreover, our current consumption of materials is putting increasing pressure on the environment.
At the same time, the raw materials challenge provides opportunities for Flanders. The waste and recycling sector is growing strongly. The added value in Belgium grew an average of 5.5% every year between 1970 and 2007, after adjusting for inflation. But also in the clusters (critical) metals, sustainable chemistry and plastics, agro-food and construction, business opportunities can be created by closing material cycles. Indicative estimates of the economic benefits of the circular economy for Flanders show savings on materials cost of 2 to 3.5% of the Flemish GDP and the creation of 27,000 additional jobs, ranging from high-tech to low-skilled.