Measuring the social side of the circular economy

How can governments make sure they effectively invest in the jobs of the future?

 A transition to the circular economy is essential to fight climate change, resource depletion and achieve sustainable growth. To ensure that policy makers and governments know how and where to implement the circular economy effectively, there is a great need for practical tools to measure it.

Aimed at defining, identifying and quantifying employment opportunities that are needed in the circular economy, Circle Economy and the Erasmus Research Institute for Happiness Economics (Ehero) have developed a standardised and replicable methodology that measures circular employment in cities around the world. This opens up the possibility of monitoring circular employment, and therefore empowers cities and governments  to effectively invest in the jobs of the future.

Implementing the circular economy is as much about people as it is about resources and sustainability

–  Annerieke Douma – Director Programme and Business Development


The initial findings of this joint research show that 8.1% of all jobs in the Netherlands are currently circular. Once identified the circular jobs were categorised according the the seven key elements of the circular economy, showing that a large majority are focused on ‘incorporating digital technology’ and ‘preserving and extending what’s already made’. In the past fifteen years, activities that involve ‘repair & maintenance’ have remained stable in numbers, with the ‘incorporation of digital technologies’ becoming an up and coming job provider. This points to the importance of knowledge intensive industries and innovation within the Dutch economy.



The fact that 8.1% of all jobs are circular also means that more than 90% of all jobs in the Netherlands are currently not circular and thus, do not contribute to the circular economy. However, the Netherlands has huge potential when it comes to the circular economy, but extra effort will need to be made in order to increase the size and impact of the circular workforce across sectors. Further research by Circle Economy and Ehero will bring to light which skills are needed to successfully implement the circular economy and allow the Dutch and local governments to accelerate the transition to circularity.

To learn more about how circular jobs are defined, how they are distributed throughout the Netherlands and the method behind how they are quantified, download the full report here.