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Sector-wide Circularity Assessment
for the biomass sector


The EU Horizon 2020 funded CityLoops project focuses on closing the material loops of two central sectors of any city in terms of material flows, societal needs and employment, namely the construction and biomass sectors. Due to their sizes, they represent a considerable opportunity for cities to transform their metabolism and economy towards a more circular state.

Within this project, seven European cities, amongst those also the City of Apeldoorn are planning to implement demonstration actions to kickstart their circularity journey. To better understand what the current circularity status quo is, as well as the impact of these actions, and the efforts needed to transform their sector, a Sector-Wide Circularity Assessment method was developed. This method combines a circular city and circular sector definition, a material flow and stock accounting method, as well as circularity indicators. The sector itself was defined in terms of a number of representative materials that make up a large share of the sector and associated economic activities. The biomass sector is made up of 12 materials, depicted as icons here, which were studied along the entirety of their supply chains. Altogether, these elements help to set a solid knowledge and analytical foundation to develop future circularity roadmaps and action plans.

Dairy products
Fodder crops
Garden and park materials
Live animals
Oil-bearing crops
Roots, tubers
Sugar crops

The assessment was carried out by the cities themselves after receiving extensive training in the form of courses on data collection (construction and biomass) and data processing. Numerous additional insights can be found in the individual Data Hubs of each city.

This current Sector-Wide Circularity Assessment report provides contextual information on the city and the economic sector under study. It then illustrates how circular these sectors are through circularity indicators and a Sankey diagram. Finally, it analyses and interprets the results, presents the limitations from the data used and offers recommendations about how to make this sector more circular.

(* The italic texts in this report were written by Metabolism of Cities' Aristide Athanassiadis and Carolin Bellstedt. They provide relevant general information and serve as connecting elements of the single report parts.)

Urban context

To contextualise the results of the sector-wide circularity assessment, this section provides population and land use information data of the city. In addition, population and area of the city under study, as well as its corresponding NUTS3, NUTS2 and country were included. Data for these scales were added to better understand how relevant and important the approximations are when downscaling data from these scales to a city level.

341 km2
1,860 km2
5,136 km2
41,543 km2

Population of Apeldoorn

The population of Apeldoorn has been increasing significantly over the past decades. The population grew from 149,869 inhabitants in 1990 to well over 163,818 in 2020, a growth of 9.3%.

Land use

  • Agriculture
  • Built area
  • Dry natural terrain
  • Forest
  • Greenhouse horticulture
  • Industrial area
  • Main road
  • Railway
  • Recreation
  • Semi-built area
  • Water
  • Wet natural terrain

Data source

The land use of the municipality of Apeldoorn’s is dominated by forests, agricultural use and built-up area. About half of Apeldoorn’s area is covered by forests, and even becomes well over half of the area, when including other natural terrains. The city itself has a strong urban character, which mainly consists of residential areas and business parks. The rural area of the municipality combines forested and agricultural lands with various smaller towns that are all part of the municipality.

Economic context of biomass sector

This section puts into perspective the economic context of the sector under study. It describes how many people are employed in this sector, as well as who the main actors involved (from all lifecycle stages for the sector’s materials) are.

GDP (monetary value, in €) Employees
Apeldoorn 56,000,000 200
Veluwe 980,000,000 3,500
Gelderland 3,700,000,000 13,400
Netherlands 29,000,000,000 103,100

The biomass sector in Apeldoorn

Although forested and agricultural land dominate Apeldoorn’s land use, the agro-food sector is not a dominating sector in the city itself. The province of Gelderland has a strong agricultural character, resulting in many surrounding municipalities having even higher numbers and rates of employment in the biomass sector than Apeldoorn. Apeldoorn’s biggest sectors in terms of employment are healthcare, wholesale and retail and administrative and support services. Nevertheless, for the whole of Gelderland the food industry is a dominant industry type, containing multiple clusters within the entire province, also in Apeldoorn. However, these numbers are not represented in the number of employees shown above, those are solely based on actors active in agriculture, forestry and fishery.

The actors of the biomass sector

Most of Apeldoorn’s biomass harvesting actors are, as expected, located outside of the city and its built-up area. Livestock farmers and in particular those raising dairy cattle and other cattle and buffaloes comprise over half of the biomass harvesting actors. 63 actors are active in non-animal farming (mixed farming, vegetables, cereals etc.) and 23 are active in the forestry business.

There are two local waste collection sites: Circulus-Berkel and SITA Recycling. Circulus-Berkel is the company that collects all household waste in the municipality of Apeldoorn. From that location, the materials are redistributed to other companies where they are treated (recycling, incineration, landfilling etc.). A few companies treat non-hazardous waste and most companies are active in the recovery of sorted materials. It is important to note, that these are all companies categorised under the NACE-codes 37, 38 and 39. These NACE-codes are non-material specific and therefore some companies might not be active in the collecting or treating waste from biomass or construction sector.


To monitor the progress of this economic sector towards circularity, a number of indicators were proposed and measured. Altogether, these indicators depict several facets of circularity of the sector. As such, they need to be considered in combination rather than in isolation when assessing circularity. In addition, these indicators can be compared to other cities or spatial scales (such as the country level). However, this has to be done with great care and use of the contextual elements in the previous sections of the report. Finally, the value measured from these indicators can be traced over time to track the sector’s progress towards circularity.

Indicator number Indicator Value Unit
34 Domestic material consumption (DMC) 771,610.06 Tonnes/year
41 Share of secondary materials in DMC 0.00 %
48 EU self-sufficiency for raw materials 97.13 %
53 Quantity of material for anaerobic digestion 2,407.63 Tonnes/year
56 Quantity of material for composting 5,617.80 Tonnes/year
57 Amount of sector specific waste that is produced 146,287.56 Tonnes/year
58 End of Life Processing Rate 0.00 %
59 Incineration rate 7.46 %
61 Landfilling rate 4.31 %

The indicator table above describes calculated values for the mandatory indicators of the Sector-wide Circularity Assessment. There is no information on the indicator values over time, as there was only data collected, processed, and analysed for one year: 2018. However, these indicator values can be compared to values from other geographical scales. It is especially relevant to compare per capita or percentage values from the Netherlands level to those of Apeldoorn. In comparing these values, multiple issues arose. In many cases the data from Apeldoorn was significantly different from those values of Netherlands as a whole. It is difficult to pinpoint whether Apeldoorn is truly performing on these indicators as the presented values or that the calculated values of the material flows are just not representative for Apeldoorn.

For example, DMC is based on the total material extraction plus total imports and minus the total exports. In Apeldoorn this is 771,610 tonnes and per capita this is around 4.7 tonnes of domestic (construction) material consumption. For the Netherlands, this value (biomass DMC) is around 2.821 tonnes per capita. However, all information is downscaled and there was no information on the imports of waste as well as no information on the distribution of extraction values to each of the lifecycle stages. In addition, the share of secondary materials in DMC is zero, because there was no information on the quantities of recycling of biomass materials to other lifecycle stages whereas in the Netherlands, it is very common to compost or anaerobically digest biomass, which produces products that are used locally. This also caused the value of 0 percent for indicator 58, End-of-Life processing rate. Lastly, the quantities of sector specific waste are also uncertain, as it comprises the total amount of company waste and not biowaste per economic activity.


Measuring circularity is a data heavy exercise. Numerous datasets were collected and visualised throughout the sector-wide circularity assessment process. To synthesise these findings, a Sankey diagram illustrates how material flows from the studied economic sector are circulating from one lifecycle stage to another. The height of each line is proportional to the weight of the flow. This diagram therefore helps to quickly have an overview of all the materials flows that compose the sector and their respective shares. The flows that are coloured in light blue in the Sankey diagram, are return flows. This means that they flow in the opposite direction of the lifecycle stages and are subjected to reuse, redistribution, or remanufacturing. Their size relative to the others is a good indication for the materials' circularity.