The Netherlands has for years been working on a national strategy to achieve goals of adopting the sustainable methods of a circular economy by the year 2050. The Dutch government has been working with utility companies, particularly in recycling used water and in using wastewater residues to create biogas for generating energy. In line with this goal, Mars one of the largest chocolate manufacturers in the Netherlands announced in 2014 that the company will install an anaerobic Memthane wastewater treatment in Veghel, the largest Mars chocolate factory not only in the country but worldwide.
The move was actually a show of support for the country’s focus on better water management. As it is, water is the most overused and overstressed natural resource of the planet in the past centuries. While everyone needs clean water, studies have shown that global water use has increased at more than double the extent of global population growth.
About Mars’ Sustainable Production Strategy
The Mars Veghel factory in The Netherlands is the world’s largest producer of chocolates that include other well-known Mars brands such as Milky Way, Snickers, Twix and Bounty. That alone gives readers an idea of the great volumes of water being consumed daily by the chocolate factory.
To make the Veghel factory production fully sustainable by the year 2040, the chocolate company installed a new wastewater plant in collaboration with Veolia Water Technologies. The new treatment plant has the capability to purify wastewater to 99% in a single step and without using pretreatment. Whatever effluent generated by the wastewater treatment goes directly to the sewage system of the nearest Veghel municipality.
Embracing Circular Economy at City Levels
At city levels, government officials are likewise working with utility companies in carrying out sustainability projects toward embracing circular economy. Amsterdam has been recycling used water in contained close loop systems that extract nutrients, which ordinarily would have been lost in traditional sewer systems. Rotterdam has been filtering wastewater to extract medicine residues used in creating biogas as alternative source of energy.
In addressing the city’s chronic flooding problems Rotterdam building residents used their rooftops as greenery. Today, there are about 100 acres of rooftop greenery that have prevented rainwater from flooding the city streets. In fact, the rooftop of an old train station is now an orchard of about 50 fruit-bearing apple and pear trees.
In Heerhugowaard, the municipalities of Alkmaar, Heerhugowaard and Langedijk financed the creation of an ecological landscape called “Park van Luna” (Park of the Moon) where the City of the Sun (Stad van de Zon) is located. The residential area of the City of the Sun is separated from its surroundings by a 60-ha lake that separates the houses from its surroundings.
Still, new housing projects with complex sustainable plumbing systems have created a high demand for plumbers. Homeowners faced with plumbing problems have to wait until a loodgieter (plumber) becomes available. In Heerhugowaard, plumbing companies make a difference by offering their services 24/7, knowing how problems like major pipe leaks or sewer system backup can be stressful if not provided with immediate solutions.