100,000 kilometres of circular pipelines by 2050
Nine Dutch drinking water companies will start using a material passport for their water pipes by 2023. These digital passports will contain information on the materials and resources used in their manufacture, where they are located and when they will become available for high-quality reuse.
This information is provided by the manufacturers/suppliers and will then also taken into account by the drinking water companies in their tenders. The nine companies agreed on using these passports in their close collaboration within the waterworks network ‘Blauwe Netten’, initiated by MVO Nederland and following a successful pilot project with Madaster.
The objective of the Blauwe Netten network is to make 100,000 kilometres of underground pipelines circular by 2050. The passport is an important first step towards achieving this objective, as it will keep track of which materials are going into the ground. It increases transparency within the chain and thus improves managing the reuse of materials. Insight into the quality of residual waste flows as well as when and where they will become available again are indispensable for achieving high-quality reuse. This will enable the planning and logistics around working with circular materials. Given that pipes have a lifespan of several decades, the companies in the Blauwe Netten network will start implementing the material passport today. Together with Madaster, these participating drinking water companies are creating the material registry of the future.
Successful pilot project
In 2021, Blauwe Netten started a pilot project with Madaster in which drinking water companies PWN, WML and Vitens and producers AVK, Dyka and Beulco gained experience with creating, recording and unlocking the information in material passports. The pilot project turned out to be a great success. It shows that the functionalities of the Madaster Platform more than meet the need with respect to the facilitation of high-quality reuse, and that interconnecting the related systems is perfectly straightforward. Each company will now start this process at its own pace. For some, this will mean researching the impact of introducing such a material passport within their organisation, while others will start adjusting their systems and assessment criteria in tender procedures.
‘Clean tap water is something that is taken for granted in the Netherlands. But we could do better in the way we transport our drinking water. There are currently over 100,000 kilometres of underground water pipes, so the impact of working on them would be huge. The detailed information about the raw materials used in them and the origins of those pipes, however, is minimal. This makes high-quality reuse an impossible task. As a result, pipes tend to be scrapped after use,’ says Maria van der Heijden, Director at MVO Nederland. ‘The Blauwe Netten network is now taking responsibility for ensuring that high-quality reuse of drinking water pipes is indeed possible. It shows that, through cooperation and a little audaciousness, the system can be moved towards a circular economy.’