Theme: Circular Economy and Social Developments

As a water company we are at the centre of society. We intensively work together with clients, shareholders and stakeholders on our core task. Given current developments such as spatial pressure and economic growth, we must be in balance with our environment. We cannot ignore national and international challenges such as energy transition and circular economy. As a country, we face an important tipping point: transform thinking into doing!

Motive for more research
The theme Circular Economy and Social Developments refers to the circular and sustainable design of our business processes. In these we take into account the trends and developments that play in society. We want to be actively involved in, and be a stable partner for, initiatives. In doing so, we increasingly try to provide, not only the vital necessity water, but also social added value in other areas.

Circular economy
The way in which we use raw materials is still mainly linear, but will have to become increasingly more circular. The protection of natural water and soil cycles, combined with the effects of agricultural activities, may offer opportunities for water supply. This asks for a system change: a different way of thinking, designing, purchasing, managing end replacing, as well as innovative ways of cooperation with the marketplace and stakeholders.

Energy transition
The Netherlands is switching to renewable, sustainable sources. That transition is both required and unavoidable. Vitens is actively aiming at generating, on its own terrain and on that in its sphere of influence, as much energy as is required for its own operations. As a major energy consumer, we depend on a stable supply of energy, and are expected to make a future-proof energy plan. Energy transition also increases the use of the underground. The installation of heating networks raises the temperature of the subsoil and, therefore, of the groundwater. In addition, developments such as geo-thermal and shale gas systems put pressure on the implementation of groundwater sources.

Objectives of this research theme

  • Proactively cooperating with stakeholders and (together) using opportunities in the transition to sustainable energy and a circular economy;
  • Visibility of our social part as a water company and, with that, an increased commitment to the subject of drinking water.


Circular business processes
The goal of this work package is rendering the use of raw materials more sustainable, and enhancing reuse from source to tap, from supplier to customer, and from employee to client. We do research into the possibilities of closing the material and commodity cycles (and corresponding revenue models).

Soil cycles
The goal of this work package is to gain insight into the influences of agriculture on soil cycle processes and groundwater, by utilising innovative data analysis and satellite data.

Innovative cooperation
As a social company, we look beyond our company boundaries. We are looking for partnerships and cooperation with (area) partners, to jointly increase sustainability and reduce emissions.

Energy transition
The projects within this work package comprise studies to gain insight into the impact of energy transition on our business processes. This includes the possibilities we have for actively reducing energy consumption and limiting CO2 emissions. We are also seeking opportunities to, jointly with our area partners, use each other’s residual energy in an optimal manner.

Questions, recommendations or advice?

Theme ambassador Shelitha van Hunen can be contacted through

Projects within Circular


 Measuring circularity

Innovations in the field of Groundwater protection

Innovations for a circular infrastructure

Energy efficiency and energy saving

Innovations for circular portfolio management

Energy neutral water from the tap in Utrecht

Correlation between agricultural measures and groundwater quality