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Circl set to continue as online platform

After almost six years in Zuidas, Circl is rapidly on its way out. The Circl building bought from ABN AMRO in 2021, made partly from recycled materials, is moving to an alternative home. Circl aims to bring together businesses, government and organisations in order to accelerate the transition towards an economy in which sustainable materials and reuse come first. We asked its director Merijn van den Bergh whether it had succeeded in that mission and how they will continue to work without a physical location. ‘We can inspire many more people online.’

Honest story

Waste becomes raw material, thereby completing the circle – that is the thinking behind Circl. According to Van den Bergh, you can tell this from the building itself: ‘We embraced it as a learning project: what exactly does circular construction involve?’ That sometimes meant pioneering, such as our choice of a direct current network to provide energy for the building. ‘That initially led to faults in the network, which is always the last thing you need’, says Van den Bergh. ‘But the reason we’re doing this is in order to learn, so that we can be honest in the story we tell ABN AMRO.’

Merijn van den Bergh

Times change

After the building was completed, the next phase involved seeking out collaboration with the outside world. Ultimately, the climate is something that affects all of us. This included collaboration with Urgenda and Impact Institute – organisations you would not normally associate with a bank in Zuidas. ‘But times change and the trust between us grew’, recalls Van den Bergh. ‘Circl increasingly developed into an ideal meeting place for ABN AMRO to engage in conversation with the community about sustainability.’

Zuidas is losing a physical meeting place

Stay close to your roots

Circularity is all about the idea of everyone using as few raw materials as possible by recycling as many raw materials as we can. For example, Circl has a lift that has not been purchased, but leased according to its vertical movement. This means that long-term maintenance contracts no longer earn money, so it is in the supplier’s interest to provide a low-maintenance lift that lasts as long as possible. ‘That means we’re also staying close to our roots as a financial institute: there’s money to be made from circularity.’

A leased 'lift-as-a-service'


Circl is now set to reinvent itself without a physical location. The website will play an increasingly important role, as will the monthly newsletter. Circl will also be getting out and about across the country, continuing to inform and inspire colleagues (and the bank’s customers) about circularity. This is needed, because there is still a long way to go. ‘In practice, people still tend to have a narrow view of what constitutes investment: if it makes money, then it must be good’, says Van den Bergh. ‘But is a good decision also the right decision?’

Restaurant and rooftop bar to remain open

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