News - January 17, 2019

How ‘circular’ are you?

The circular economy is all the rage, but what is it exactly? And how do you go ‘circular’? Postdoc researcher Evelien de Olde of the Animal Production Systems chair group wondered about this and decided to create a test based on the existing literature. See how you score and find out how circular you are.

text Evelien de Olde  illustrations Henk van Ruitenbeek

1. You find a hole in your shirt. What do you do?
a. Throw it away. Time to go shopping! C -1
b. Repair it (mum?) R4 1
c. Nothing, that’s fashionable R2 2
d. Use it as pyjamas R1 2
e. Goes in the textile recycling bin R8 0

2. What meat do you eat?
a. None, or not much meat R2 2
b. Game or meat from nature areas R2 2
b. Game or meat from nature areas C -1
d. Offal and other parts such as the tail and trotters R6 1

3. What do you do with your food leftovers?
a. Give to a housemate or save for another time R3 1
b. Feed to chickens, rabbits or pigs R7 1
c. I never have leftovers R2 2
d. Throw away (immediately or after keeping them for a month in the fridge) R9 0

4. Your sofa is starting to show wear and tear — now what?
a. No problem, it’ll last a few more years R2 2
b. Some friend or relative will be happy to have it R3 1
c. Take it to the second-hand shop R3 1
d. On the New Year’s Eve bonfire R9 0
e. Have it upholstered again R5 1

5. The thermostat says 18 degrees and you feel cold. What do you do?
a. Put on a thick jumper R0 2
b. Turn the thermostat up one degree and put on a jumper R2 2
c. Turn the thermostat up to 21 C -1
d. Wash up, clear up and hoover to get warm R1 2

6. Your bike light stops working. What now?
a. Get one of those little plastic LED lights from the supermarket C -1
b. Fit a new wire or bulb in your current bike light R4 1
c. There’s an old bike in the shed with lights that work; you decide to use them R6 1
d. Go without lights R0 2

7. What do you drink your coffee from?
a. My own mug R3 1
b. Plastic or paper cups because they get recycled anyway R8 0
c. I don’t drink coffee R0 2

8. What egg makes your day?
a. No egg at all R0 2
b. A Kipster/Oerei egg (eggs from chickens fed with waste products or insects) R7 1
c. An egg from my own chickens (which get fed leftovers sometimes) R7 1
d. Just the usual supermarket ones C -1

9. You drop your smartphone and sure enough, screen’s cracked...
a. Great, I wanted the new iPhone X anyway C -1
b. OK, I’ll buy a second-hand one R5 1
c. I’ll get the screen replaced R4 1
d. I’ve still got an old, indestructible Nokia somewhere R2 2

10. What do you do with Resource? (more than one answer possible)
a. Resource? Never heard of it! (Eh...) R0 2
b. I share it with my housemates or colleagues R1 2
c. I read it online R2 2
d. I use it as cat litter, decoration, toilet paper... R7 1
e. On the bonfire! R9 0
f. I put it out for recycling R8 0

Your score

Circular economy ladder

The points in this test are based on the ten levels of circularity that are identified in the literature. We added level C — consuming — ourselves. At this level, there is no circularity at all and the use of raw materials increases.

We admit that this point scoring system results in some strange ‘advice’. In question 6, for example, cycling without a light gives the most points because Refuse (R0) is at the top of the ladder, whereas it’s obviously a bad idea. For food too, not consuming at all is not an option. Those are cases where you are better off a little further down the circularity ladder.


Circular economy: what we want to know and can measure. Framework and baseline assessment for monitoring the progress of the circular economy in the Netherlands. Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL), 2018

Circulaire economie - van wens naar uitvoering [Circular economy — from wish to implementation]. Council for the Environment and Infrastructure (RLI), 2015