51.9244° N • 4.4777° E

Leave nothing to waste: sustainable cutting-edge tech in Rotterdam

At the port of Rotterdam Yldau and Fabian met some incredibly inspiring and forward-looking people who are working to make our way of life sustainable by changing the way we think about waste.

Every European produces nearly half a tonne of waste per year. That’s only the average, though, because the more purchasing power people have, the more waste they tend to produce. We buy products that have been made as cheaply as possible, use them briefly and then throw them away. This kind of linear economy puts a huge strain on the environment as limited natural resources end up filling dump sites (or swimming around in oceans).

In the long run it is obviously not sustainable to turn everything of value on our planet into trash. Businesses should instead be designing products to last, to be easy to take apart and reuse, and to leave no waste. This is the essence of the concept of circular economy.

Changing how businesses function and consumers behave is not that easy, though, but it’s a task BlueCity has set for itself: Fabian and Yldau’s first destination of the day. At this former subtropical swimming oasis, circular economy start-ups on a mission to turn waste into a resource get support and an opportunity to collaborate with each other, researchers, public authorities, educational institutions and local residents. The old changing rooms host laboratory facilities where materials can be grown, processed and ultimately packaged with other lab-grown innovations like kombucha leather!

A short water-taxi ride away is RDM Rotterdam, the fruit of collaboration between the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences and the Port of Rotterdam Authority. They have transformed the former shipyard of the Rotterdamsche Droogdok Maatschappij (RDM) into a campus with cutting-edge facilities for researchers and students, start-ups and multinationals’ R&D branches. Better wind technology, smarter, eco-friendly products, waste eating robots – this innovation hotspot is all about science and manufacturing serving a more sustainable leave-nothing-to-waste future.

Flux Festival

Yldau and Fabian got a whirlwind tour of the latest RDM tech innovations at the Future Flux Festival, an amazing annual gathering of innovators from the Netherlands and beyond. Fabian was particularly impressed by the “transhumanist” technology of exoskeletons: bionic limbs that can help in industrial production but also people with partial paralysis walk or use their arms again.

It was a truly inspiring final stop on our travellers’ Atlantic adventure!

See also

Danube Route / Week 2

What if, all of a sudden, you could change your perspective and see the bigger picture? That's what we aimed at during this week through Austria and Slovakia: we cycled, flew(!), and walked around urban and nature landscapes, and took our exploration skills to the next level. 

Porto - an ocean of opportunity

Portugal’s second city is a top tourist destination for many reasons - from the port cellars to the iconic metal bridge over the river Douro and many other architectural and culinary gems.

Our travellers, always on the look out for new wonders to discover, went to the shoreline just north of where the river Douro meets the sea, to the port of Leixoes.