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by Frank Boermeester

Clean, Circular Economies

Challenge Description


Belgium is ranked a poor 41st on the Environmental Performance Index (Yale University), trailing nearly every other European country. On a per capita basis we produce nearly 5 tons of waste (household and industrial waste, excluding construction and mining waste) per year. That’s nearly three times the European average!

But it isn’t just a Belgian problem. Around the world we are all still slave to the mechanisms that drive the over-exploitation of the world’s resources, in particular our pursuit of blind economic growth based on a linear economic model of raw materials, production, consumption, disposal and replacement.

Join the Circular Challenge and help build the closed-loop services of the future, where CO2 is a resource and waste a profit.


Workshop topic 1: Circular Retail


Zero waste retail


Within the challenge of building up a circular system in our world there is a super important stakeholder who sits in between the consumer and the producers: the retail sector. And the biggest challenge within the retail sector is packaging: it’s cheap, easy to produce, protects our protects and is super handy for marketing purposes. But it also generates a lot of waste!

So, what would a retailer that only uses reusable packaging look like? How would the returns systems and logistics be arranged? And how could the producers still brand their products? Come to Hack Belgium and create the answer yourself!


Workshop topic 2: Circular Buildings


Buildings as Material Banks


As cities grow and the needs of urban populations evolve, so the stock of buildings keeps growing.  Often it is easiest to simply build more buildings instead of renovating existing buildings. And older buildings that have become obsolete or outdated are often simply demolished to make way for new buildings. That generates enormous waste in building materials. In this workshop we’ll explore how we can turn the building industry into a circular economy. Imagine buildings as Material Banks, as a temporary store of materials, the value of which is registered in building “passports”.

Imagine buildings that can be easily disassembled and reused for new purposes.  Join us in this workshop to radically rethink the building and construction industry, creating more value for all stakeholders, including building owners, contractors, designers and the planet.


Workshop topic 3: Circular Art


Sustainable Art and Art for Sustainability


We are racing to extinction, unless we change our consumption and production behaviour. While art isn’t something we usually associate with the quest for a circular economy, the art industry does in fact need to clean up its act. Did you know that most visual art never actually reaches an audience; that most artistic materials such as paper and paint carry a significant environmental footprint, and that most of it is wasted?  


In this workshop we’ll explore how digital tools and bio-materials could radically change the way art is made and distributed. We’ll explore how digital tools could reduce art material consumption, scale up art consumption, while enhancing artist individually. We’ll explore bio-alternative materials such as bacterial pigments and microbial paper.  And finally we’ll consider how art as a storytelling medium can help facilitate societal change.

Want to us to tell you when the full Hack Belgium program is ready?


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