Soft ideals

Published on 29 January 2018

According to the chair of the Dutch Waste Management Association (DWMA) and former politician Boris van der Ham the increasing attention for recycling is justified. As far as he is concerned, strong government lobbying is vital.


Tekst Boris van der Ham

Boris van der Ham

Boris van der Ham

Boris van der Ham zat namens D66 van 2002 tot en met 2012 in de Tweede Kamer. Gedurende deze periode was Van der Ham onder meer verantwoordelijk voor de portefeuilles economische zaken, natuur en milieu, grondrechten, cultuur, en verkeer en vervoer. Tegenwoordig is Boris van der Ham actief als bestuurder. Zo is hij voorzitter van de Vereniging Afvalbedrijven en onbezoldigd voorzitter van het Humanistisch Verbond.

‘In the Netherlands, we have really committed to collecting and recycling our waste. It’s amazing to see. We make new, clean materials and durable energy from waste. We do this at a very high level and are really leading the way, together with a few other countries. During a visit to Auto Recycling Netherland’s PST Factory, as chair of the DWMA, I saw a great example of this with my own eyes.

Complex considerations

It is completely justifiable that a topic such as recycling has received more attention in recent years. We cannot simply burden the following generations with our waste. Furthermore, it is a basis for new raw materials and products. The sector realises this within an economic perspective and creates jobs. Reusing and recycling do have limits. Within a sustainable society, we must always weigh up the ecological, economic and social factors. That is crucial to keeping our society clean and to safeguard our children’s future.

‘Reusing and recycling have limits. Within a sustainable society, we must always weigh up the ecological, economic and social factors.’

Government can do more

The parties within our sector naturally have different perspectives. In that sense, the work of a sector organisation is comparable to the political debate. At the same time, there is great desire to learn from each other and we work well together based on common interests. The Dutch government also has a significant role in that. Our sector is dependent on the government when it comes to clear frameworks within which issues such as recycling are arranged. But the government can do more. For instance, by using more recycled products itself, and setting requirements for this within procurement for government projects.

Joint lobbying

In this way, business is encouraged to remain innovative, which is beneficial to our competitive position abroad. From my position, I am gearing up for joint lobbying of the government and municipalities to get this important topic on the agenda and to keep it there. Being a ‘green liberal’, it is a great way of bringing soft ideals into practice.’

About Boris van der Ham

Boris van der Ham represented D66 in the Dutch Lowr House from 2002 until 2012. During this period, Van der Ham was responsible for the economic affairs, nature and environment, culture and traffic and transport portfolios. Nowadays, Boris van der Ham is an active board member. He is chair of the Dutch Waste Management Association and honorary chair of the Humanistic Association Netherlands (Humanistisch Verbond).