Circular Challenge

Kick Off Circular Challenge


In the circular economy there is no such thing as waste. Just like in nature, the output for one is the input for the other. Even though more and more companies are convinced by this idea, a lot still struggle with so called ‘worthless’ waste streams. The main question: how to make worthless worthy again?

With the BlueCity Circular Challenge we challenge companies to offer their waste stream to a team of students and young professionals who will do all they can to turn it into a valuable product. After a period of six weeks four multidisciplinary teams will present their circular, innovative, and profitable new product to a grand jury. The winning team will get the chance to further develop their idea into a business case within the walls of BlueCity.

The Kick Off


We kicked off the six week challenge on the 11th of september. An exciting day, when the students got the chance to meet each other for the first time, and heard all about the participating companies and their waste streams.

Early in the morning the first enthusiastic students arrived at BlueCity, all ready to for coffee, and even more ready to start the challenge! It wasn’t long before the room was filled with motivated students and enthusiastic companies, after an introduction by the chairwoman it was time for the participating companies to present themselves, and more importantly, their waste streams:

The company’s

First on stage was UPP (the collective of horticulturalists and urban landscapers consisting of Binder Groenprojecten, Hoek Hoveniers, Van de Haar Groep, Van Helvoirt Groenprojecten). Rob Luyk and Mark Berger told the students all about their activities and corresponding waste streams (litter waste, leafs, trees, you name it). UPP is the only company that has not yet decided on a waste stream for the challenge, this is up to the students!

Gemeente Rotterdam

Secondly it was time for Suzan Heijkoop of Gemeente Rotterdam to give us some insight on the route that disposable coffee cups travel after they’ve been used by the employees of the municipality. These paper cups travel a long road before they can finally be recycled, a challenging process that can definitely be improved!

Thijs Copini

Another interesting waste stream came from Thijs Copini of Hoogheemraadschap van Schieland en de Krimpenerwaard. He told us all about quite a challenging waste stream: filtered goods. The students will have to create a new product out of the goods that are filtered out during the first phase of sewage water filtering at one of the wastewater treatment plants.


Last but not least it was time for Reinout Wissenburg from Stedin. He even brought an example of the super challenging and almost un recyclable waste stream with him: electric meters made out of bakelite, and challenged the students to turn this into their own successful startup.

The next couple of days

In order to further process all the gathered information the large group of students separated into the four multidisciplinary groups that will be working together in the coming weeks. They sat down together with the companies to further discuss the options and possibilities of the different waste streams and to start making plans. No time to waste!

On the 22nd of september the students will present their first ideas to the companies, and they will learn all about the Business Model Canvas. You are more then welcome to join us! Keep an eye on our blog if you want to stay up to date!