The Netherlands helps Canada with waste processing

Something a small country can be big in: waste! Dutch waste technology companies are advising Canada regarding modernising their waste processing. Rijkswaterstaat is helping to create contacts with Canadian government organisations.

The Netherlands is among the global top 3 as far as organised waste processing is concerned. Herman Huisman, Senior Advisor, international cooperation in waste management at Rijkswaterstaat explains: 'As a small country we don't have much space available to dump waste and we are aware of sustainability and environmental issues.’ Canada is very different in this respect: ‘It is a huge country with lots of space to dump waste. So that is generally what happens, and cheaply too. Until recently, Canadians did not see the importance of addressing global issues, such as climate change and environmental pollution. And the responsibility for waste and environmental policy lies with local rather than national government.'

Small family companies

The Netherlands is now helping Canadian government organisations to reduce waste and make production companies aware of their responsibility, via the Partners International Business Programme (PIB). This cooperation originated from the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Development, which searches actively for opportunities for Dutch companies to operate abroad. 'Dutch waste technology companies are often small family companies with a strong focus on the home market. The PIB gives them the incentive to work together as a consortium. Companies involved were mainly organic waste processors, such as builders and operators of composting, fermentation and biogas systems, and they asked us as government to make a trip together to Canada.'

Integrated approach

Rijkswaterstaat helps these Dutch companies develop contacts with Canadian government organisations. 'The Dutch and Canadian governments have contact at various levels. As it is essential not to enter the foreign market as technology or equipment sellers, but as provider of integrated solutions, we started discussions with our Canadian peers to share our waste processing experience and to examine how this could be adapted to their situation.'

During the initial exploratory discussions it became apparent that administrative fragmentation is a big problem in Canada. 'There is no national policy or plan and there is only a limited coalition between government, businesses and knowledge institutes. To address the initial issue of how the Canadians could get such cooperation off the ground, Rijkswaterstaat organised visits to the Netherlands for Canadian municipalities and companies.'

Hundred million

The result of the cooperation is substantial: various Dutch companies have signed contracts with Canadian municipalities for several 100 million Canadian dollars. 'It's a success for the waste sector. And part of the consortium, plus some new companies, is now making headway in the United States. Canadian local government organisations have also incorporated a lot from us regarding ways to make production companies responsible for waste, and instruments to reduce waste dumping. And as Rijkswaterstaat, we have learned a lot from this process too, as it improves and focuses our approach and way of working.'