Offsetting phones: 'Simple and effective'

22 July 2019

How do you make mobile phone purchasing circular, sustainable and social? Ten Dutch provinces and four environmental services joined forces for this. In their tender they demanded, among other things, that the phones should be "material-neutral". Closing the Loop offered the solution. Pianoo, the Expertise Center for Procurement of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate, has made this into a practice example case for others to get inspired. The article highlights the benefits of our Award-winning solution. 

Henk Klaassen, Senior Purchasing Advisor for the province of Flevoland says: "The production chain of electronics is not only very polluting, but also many scarce resources are used. In addition, there is a lot of social injustice. We wanted to do something about that, as provinces and environmental services. However, the problem is that those chains are very complex. Suppliers of electronics have little insight into what producers do. It is therefore difficult to exert influence and thus improve the chain. Together you get more done, so we formed a joint project team. This team issued a tender for the entire telephone package - all of us together. We subdivided that package into different plots; from telephony to the delivery and services related to devices."

How was circularity included in the tender?

"We told what our circular wishes are, without saying how they should be achieved, and we left the solution to the market. We asked market parties to fulfill our wish as much as possible to make our new phones material neutral. The better the proposal, the higher the score. The winning party, the IT reseller Centralpoint, sought cooperation with the Amsterdam-based social enterprise Closing the Loop in order to give substance to this. For every phone that a province purchases, Closing the Loop ensures that waste phones are collected and recycled in Africa. That's what they call One for One. In addition, our discarded device is made suitable for the second-hand market."


This tender led to the first time that a government in the Netherlands purchased raw material-neutral ICT. This best practice has since been followed by various municipalities and also the government. The winning party, IT supplier Centralpoint, works closely with social enterprise Closing the Loop. They offer a circular compensation service for mobile phones. This is simple but effective: if you buy a new phone, a waste phone is recycled somewhere else as compensation.


  • Market parties are given the opportunity to come up with the best solution, because they are allowed to decide for themselves how to fulfill the wishes of the contracting authority.
  • An expert project team has been formed with various fields of expertise. This makes it easier to gain internal support and to make a good estimate of the possibilities in the circular field.


  • The involvement of many public stakeholders in this tender made it a time-consuming task to come to joint objectives and mutual agreements, and to reach a consensus in the final request.

Concrete results

Klaassen believes that the best part of the tender is that governments are now paying a lot of attention to sustainability and circularity. "A good development. And the fact that we can show concrete results with this project is a bonus. In this way we can indicate exactly what our purchasing yields in terms of material savings. Hopefully that is an additional reason for other procurement teams to follow our example."

Read the full article in Dutch here: