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Anne Rademaker

Anne Rademaker has an extensive educational and professional background in business processes and circular economy. She worked for 5 years at EY Advisory and supported over 25 international clients focused on turning linear risks into circular opportunities. She coached multiple diverse teams, both from a personal and content perspective, along the way.

Applying circular economy principles in practice is what Anne is most passionate about. She is considered an expert in creating or updating circular tools and metrics based on the latest publications. 

In addition, she is a mentor of Oxford students in the World Economic Forum program Lead for Sustainability. She published a book and various articles related to circular economy. Anne is determined to apply circular principles in her private life as well. She co-founded a non-profit foundation to include and activate the society locally to join forces and take on global challenges.

Christian van Maaren

Christian van Maaren is the founder and CEO of the Excess Materials Exchange, a revolutionary platform that uses AI, machine learning, and blockchain technology to connect buyers and sellers of secondary materials and waste, advancing the circular economy agenda.

Christian is a member of the Young Club of Rome, a network of young change-makers committed to driving sustainability and tackling the world's most pressing environmental challenges. He has also been selected to join Sir Robert Swan OBE on an expedition to Antarctica in 2012, where he has the opportunity to witness the impacts of climate change firsthand and work towards finding solutions in a group of highly motivated individuals from across the globe.

Before starting the Excess Materials Exchange, Christian worked as a natural capital and green infrastructure program manager for Shell in Houston, Texas.

In addition to his professional pursuits, Christian is an avid outdoorsman and has climbed several of the Seven Summits, the highest peaks on each of the seven continents. He has also been on an expedition to the Himalayas to install solar panels on an ancient Buddhist monastery, combining his love of the outdoors with his passion for sustainability.

In his personal life, Christian is the proud father of a 2-year-old boy and is dedicated to leaving a positive legacy for future generations.

Listen to the episode

Tune in to find more about:


  • How Christian and Anne share their personal journeys that led them to their current roles, highlighting their backgrounds in consultancy, sustainability, and their desire to make a positive impact.
  • How one of the core tools of Excess Materials Exchange’s platform, the resources passport, gives identity to excess materials, waste, or secondary materials and how by providing these materials with a passport.
  • The complexity of transitioning to a Circular Economy and the need to align technology with broader change processes and collaborations.
  • How the guests acknowledge that while it may be an easy sell conceptually, there are still challenges and resistance to change.
  • How the need to address public perception and overcome the misconception that change lies solely with companies or legislation and emphasises the collective responsibility of individuals.
  • And much more!


S7E13 Audiogram image

Emily Swaddle  00:10

Hello and welcome back to HappyPorch Radio, Season Seven. Today Barry and I had the pleasure of speaking with Christian van Maaren and Anne Rademaker. Christian is the founder and CEO of the Excess Materials Exchange, a revolutionary platform that uses AI, machine learning and blockchain technology to connect buyers and sellers of secondary materials. And Anne is an independent adviser and consultant supporting the transition towards the global Circular Economy. Anne has been working with Christian at Excess Materials Exchange, continues to work with them .And actually Barry, you'll remember back in season five, we spoke to Maayke from the Excess Materials Exchange. Today's conversation was a bit different, we framed it a bit differently to fit in with this season's topic of zooming out and seeing the transition from a sort of higher perspective as we talk to consultants and other sorts of advisors in this space. Yeah, it was a good one. It was another great conversation.

Barry O'Kane  01:13

Yeah, it really was. I think there's a couple of themes that are really, really sticking with me from a lot of these conversations. And in this one, I think it came across really strongly again. And  one is the drive and passion for the people doing this work, not just from a 'Hey, this is a fun project and an amazing thing I'm doing,' but from a very personal place. And Christian in particular shared how he has some quite cool and unusual inspiration, we'll let the listeners find out about how he fishes through, you know, how he keeps going in the difficult times. And I think that theme is really, I keep using the word inspiring, but I think it genuinely is inspiring for the season. And then in addition to that, I loved the detail that we got into from the sharing a little bit of detail from both of their work from the Excess Material Exchange, and some of the other projects about how the difficult complex, messy problems that we're trying to change with a circular transition, and how they're actually making that concrete and enabling things to happen.

Emily Swaddle  02:16

Yeah, I mean, there's a lot of inspiring bits, I think, coming out of this season. And yeah, for me, one of the things that I'm hearing a lot is this idea of like collaboration and the need for that, you know, I feel like we've been talking about this for three seasons, and it just never gets less impactful. But there's just no such thing as individual actors in this transition. Everyone's individual actions are impactful. But there's not really a transition, there's not really a full change until it's happening collectively, and we're collaborating and the system is actually transforming. I think that that's something that keeps coming back around for me as well.

Barry O'Kane  03:01

Definitely. One of the other themes that we're pulling out from the season, I think is how important it is to take the skills that we have as individuals and the strength of our businesses, and actually get involved in this change. And that doesn't have to be either avoiding the complexity or stuck in analysis paralysis. And I think there's a really exciting opportunity. And as I often say, because I firmly believe in our responsibility for those of us who work in that, particularly in the tech sector, we have this power and privilege to actually get involved in this stuff. And the Excess Materials Change is a brilliant example of that, because it's using technology. But as they talk about in this conversation, how that is a small part of the broader change. So it needs to enable process change and work with people and working with multiple departments. And as you mentioned, the collaboration and putting all those things together with a technology enabling that rather than the old, you know, solution looking for a problem type 'Let's get stuck in cool tech, because it's cool'. And rather thinking about the impact and the place, and the context for all of these things are so important.

Emily Swaddle  04:05


Barry O'Kane  04:06

Cool, and so without any further ado, let's meet Christian and Anne.

Christian van Maaren  04:11

My name is Christian van Maaren. And I'm one of the founders and the CEO of the Excess Materials Exchange, which I think in short, is perhaps best described as a dating site for secondary materials and waste.

Anne Rademaker  04:24

My name is Anne Rademaker. I'm currently based in the Netherlands. And I am partitioning that Circular Economy principles basically across the world, to further accelerate the transition in all kinds of sectors and environments. And I'm doing that with a lot of passion each day.

Barry O'Kane  04:43

Awesome. Thank you so much, and welcome both of you to HappyPorch Radio. 

Christian van Maaren  04:47

Thank you.

Barry O'Kane  04:48

So both doing multiple different things. And there's lots going on, and the connection between you and this conversation is the Excess Materials Exchange. But to sort of preface all of that, and talk a little bit and to sort of set the scene for the conversation, I'd love to hear from you both a little bit about what led you to this point in this passion that you described, and this work that you're doing right now?

Anne Rademaker  05:10

Yeah, it started really almost more than 10 years ago, from my end, where I was first introduced to the topic of Circular Economy during a business case, where we had to think about travelling, working, living in a circular world. And back in the days, everyone was like having this big question like, What is the circular world? And and what's the difference then from our world today? And I was triggered by that because the whole topic and the content of Circular Economy  is really nothing new. It exists for a long time, just under different, let's say naming. But why is it so important now? That triggered me and also because of the word economy in there, which I think is one of the main reasons why it's also like, getting a lot of attention today. Because in the end, I think we all figured out that if we ask the question, do you want to leave a better world for your children or grandchildren? It's just not working. It's a matter of matching that possible environmental impact to watch? What do you gain from it, from a financial perspective? And suddenly, that's interesting for companies and well for individuals. So that triggered me from the very beginning, connecting, making the world a better place to barge. How can we also satisfy the needs of everyone interested in other aspects of it? So for me, I started my journey within that EY as a more like global consultancy to really understand ways of working of multinational companies, and especially also the language of C level, like, how do they talk? How do they make decisions? And why is this not getting the attention it should get? And a couple of years ago, it really started to become much more practical, like what does it mean? How can you act, and especially also how you can gain from it from multiple angles. And that's also the time where I personally took the leap and started to assist companies, but also other initiatives, really to make this part of their daily practice. And the fun part is, is that it has really been taking off. Also today, you see students are mastering in this I'm lucky enough to lecture on various universities as well on this topic, and also recently published a book about it really going back to the basics again, because what you see now, the front runners are out there, they are really trying to find proper cases. And well, of course be acknowledged in their leadership position. But what you see is that most of the companies and also referring to most of individual people around you and me, still have no proper sense of what it is and how they can contribute to it. So we are really in this tipping point I feel towards like, Okay, how can we now bring everyone up to speed and really make a change happen, and that motivates me.

Christian van Maaren  08:14

So my journey towards this point was a bit more meandering, I think.I started my career at Shell, which may be, may sound a bit odd seeing what I do today. But I did start to work for Shell because I wanted to see if I could change the company from the inside out, which was maybe back then a bit of a naive, young, professional ambition. But I have to say, looking back, I wasn't that unsuccessful. And one of the things that I managed to do was to convince my first manager to send me an expedition to Antarctica with Sir Robert Swan, who back then had the ambition to take young future leaders to Antarctica to make them fall in love with the continent and make them sort of sustainable champions in the hope that they would go back to the normal world and use their skills for good, which I guess works quite well on me. And that's something that's sort of turned what I would call back then, sort of, like a dormant wake flame in the back of my mind to do something good in what I actually said back then in an interview on Antarctica, turned into a "blazing inferno", which is maybe kind of embarrassing, but there we go, made me change my career. So I was back then just a project manager for capital projects. But then I devoted my time first on sustainability. First, within Shell, I managde the natural capital and green infrastructure programme for North and South America based out of Houston, which is a lot of fun, because I was managing projects in which we built oyster reefs, mangrove forest, and wetlands and whatnot, and also looking at alternative ways to sequester carbon, mostly through natural ways. And it was also through that work that I got a chance to work with a lot of NGOs and also got acquainted with the topic  of the Circular Economy, and realised that it was perhaps one of the fastest if not the cheapest ways to reach the Paris Climate Agreement targets. So back then, this was in 2016, when the oil price took a bit of a nosedive. And Shell took a look at the programme that we were working on a bit more closely and decided to cut back on it, I thought it was a nice moment to leave the organisation and start doing something for myself and be a bit more closely involved with with sustainability, move back to Europe, and started the Excess Materials Exchange. And that was a bit of an interesting step, I would say, it was a character building experience and has been a roller coaster ride. And to be honest, it still is. And it is also like Anne is saying, Circular Economy in a lot of ways, it's a systemic change. Everything has to change for the Circular Economy to be ready to work. But it's also a new vernacular, it's a way of turning sustainability, which I think has always been a topic that's always been pigeon holed to sustainability practitioners into something that is also all of a sudden practical and useful for financial people, because, of course, the term economy in it, but also to operational people, and to in fact, all other practitioners out there. And I think that's also the fun part about it. And if I were to tell on events or on birthdays, to tell people about what I'm doing, it sounds very intuitive. And you know, people would say, Well, why aren't we doing this? Why are we wasting all these precious materials? But in fact, we are. And someone once said that the Circular Economy seems to be stuck in the future. Because everybody wants it, companies want it, governments want it. There's all sorts of policy out there pushing for it, incentivizing it, and whatnot. But still, at the same time, it seems to be quite difficult and complicated to transition from where we are today in the linear economy towards that Circular Economy. We're seeing it also in the numbers, of course, because the Circular Economy from the Netherlands, they do this assessment every year. And actually, we're seeing that we're going back, we're becoming less circular. And I think  that's the interesting bit of it to see how we can get this unstuck. What are the necessary tools that we need to make this happen? Who are the right stakeholders that we need to engage? At what time? What do we need to tell them? You know, what do they need for this to become a reality. And I think that's really exciting. Of course, it's also at times, very frustrating. But I think that's, that's what keeps me going. And what is great about this, and I think in general, what is really great about this whole movement that is happening today is that it's not only a systems change, but it also brings together great people from all over the world. I mean, through our work also met Anne of course, and now we're working together. But we have expanded recently to Australia, we're now working on also expanding to the Middle East, I'm now in London, looking at expanding our work. So it's also a wonderful way to do something good. And I had a conversation a couple of days ago with a gentleman here in London. And the chance that we have today to work on something like the Circular Economy, or perhaps even other sustainability related topics, will define perhaps what the world will look like in the next couple of centuries or perhaps maybe even longer. And I think people in the future will look back at this time, maybe with some jealousy, to say, I wish I was there to be able to do what they did. You know, and here we are doing it. And I'm actually quite happy. And even when I say this I get quite excited about it.

Barry O'Kane  13:24

Outstanding. Thank you. That's brilliant. It really brings the conversation to life when we hear the story and the passion that both of you are bringing to this work. One phrase, that's stuck with me, Christian, that the Circular Economy is stuck in the future. And you also then finished off talking about the opportunity to be at that cusp and the change and this transition to be part of that and to be helping to make that happen. But I'd like to maybe just dwell on the stuck part a little bit. And you're finished on a sort of hopeful and as you said exciting note and Anne I can hear as well the passion and the excitement that you have for the work as well. So I guess challenging question for me is do you find it difficult to keep going when you do see things like some stats, Circularity Gap Report or when it feels like we are pushing the boulder up the hill? How do you keep going?

Christian van Maaren  14:14

I mean, it's a very good question. And I think a lot of people wondered this, when they look at the work that I've been doing, and the amount of hours that I put in, I'm sure for for Anne, it's very much the same. And I actually, and this may sound really weird. But I take a lot of inspiration from some of the old painters like Van Gogh, and even Rembrandt. Because they, of course, as we now know, saw the world in a very specific way, which was very different from how other people back then saw the world. But they still persisted. And maybe they were not necessarily as well regarded when they were still alive, especially in a case of Van Gogh. But now that we look back, we call them visionaries, and we call them brilliant, and we call them the best painters in history. And not to say that I call myself the best in anything in this world, but I do take a lot of inspiration from maybe the the tenacity, and sort of the belief that they had in their vision of the world. And that really is something that keeps me going.  Or that we all have a great vision that is worth sacrificing our time and our efforts to or for, I think the future will only tell us. But that's something that really keeps me going because I really feel like that this is the way to go. And I also feel like with the Excess Materials Exchange and the tools that we have developed, those are the tools that we need, that gives me this doggedness and this drive to keep pushing and to be honest, that's one part of it. And the other part also is the fantastic people that I get to work with. Not just Anne and the other people in our team that we work with, that are very, very much focused and very much part of the team and are willing to make, maybe not the same sacrifices that we're making, but definitely not insignificant. And also the people that we work with in the organisations that work with us as well, because they are the intrapreneurs, the champions that we need inside large organisations be in both public and private organisations to make these this happen, the agents of change sort of that build this coalition of the willing to make that happen. Part of it is sort of this intrinsic motivation. And part of it is also that helped me keep going,

Anne Rademaker  16:23

Adding to that question, because I agree with you. And I like the comparison with the famous painter, but making it very small and very bid size is I think one of the reasons for me to keep on going. Because I think now we all kind of like understand, what is it? And where are we transitioning to and it's a systemic change. So we know everyone is involved, but at the same time, making that very bid size and understandable of what you should do and how this involvement should look like. That's actually where it gets also really excited, right? Because actually, that's also where we see now in practice, also last years, that people don't like to change personally, right? If someone asks you personally, like change your consumption habits or buy another product that is modular, and that is easier to repair or whatsoever, it's like, no, the company should change or legislation should change, right? So it's always like pinpointing towards each other while looking simply at the theory of systemic change is that everyone brings value to the table. And that adds to also Christian telling, we are already working with such amazing people motivated people experts in the field, really from all kinds of specialities, right, it's really not that you should have a certain background in that sense. But really, everyone. And for me, the main driver and motivation is Okay, how to make that small, how to make it understandable and what to do. And then the next step was to do it, and see that all those very small ,small activities make the contribution to the bigger change. So zooming in, zooming out, even though sometimes you get very pessimistic about all the things that are happening, and does it add value if I do something small? I believe it does. And it motivates to keep on going.

Emily Swaddle  18:18

Thank you both for sharing your perspectives on that. You've touched upon the idea of public perception. You know, you both talked about the language and Christian, you mentioned, talking to people in sort of a social context, and everyone's like, Circular Economy sounds like a great idea. Is that not what we already do? And you know, it's an easy sell in a lot of ways. But also, on the other side of that, as you mentioned Anne, there's a resistance when it comes to actually making change. So I'm just wondering, in your experience, how much resistance you've come across as you do your work and how you deal with that. And if you find that Circular Economy is an easy sell ultimately, or if there's still ,sort of ,collective resistance towards this movement and towards this transition?

Christian van Maaren  19:05

I think there's some layers to it, right, because I think the great thing about the Circular Economy, as we mentioned, is that everybody understands it. But I think also, the downside of the Circular Economy is that it's very easy to take your own interpretation from it or give your own definition to it. Which then also can cause some confusion. But I think, sort of that, those layers come back in a sense that most people want to work on this. But then they often run into the walls of maybe their own organisations that are very much geared towards the linear economy. And this sometimes comes back to very simple things, right, where you have an organisation that has a lot of materials that they have left, either in stores, or maybe they taking it out of some existing project that they have, but they don't have the mandate to sell it. So that then they have to rely on maybe contracts to do it for them. But then to motivate those contracts to do that is quite difficult, because they're stuck in framework agreements. And those framework agreements have been agreed on, maybe years ago, and they don't meet Circular Economy requirements at all. And then we've also come across companies where, where they were allowed to sell the materials, but then actually, the salespeople were not that motivated, because the materials obviously, were worth a little bit less than the other stuff they would normally be selling. So they felt, you know, less incentivized to necessarily collaborate. So, you know, maybe also  to your point, Barry, is that in some ways, you see that there's often very motivated individuals within organisations, you know, these champions for change. But at the same time, the Circular Economy does require different departments in an organisation to work together, you know, operations, waste, procurement, and Anne I think also, like you said, sales, and these are not necessarily departments that that have always in the past, work together that closely. So it always causes some some friction, and especially if we have to deal with long term contracts, and especially waste contracts are oftentimes very long term contracts. It may take some time before we can really make some big, big strides within these organisations. 

Anne Rademaker  21:14

To add to that, because I think you're giving some great examples of what if materials are already there, and the kind of challenges that you receive it from internally in organisation and also the partners that you're working with with dealing with those organisations. But similar challenges exist when you talk about how can we prevent those materials being there in the first place, right? Because then you come across also different politics inside a company, thinking about an R&D team that probably needs to develop the product a little bit different, making it repairable, extending the lifetime, but that's probably pretty much different from the focus that they might have today, not only forgetting, of course, about the KPIs that these individuals inside an organisation have, when do they get a bonus or you know, like a promotion is often based on? Well, we sometimes call it like linear KPIs. Right? Because often are more and on growth and on without taking into consideration the impact on the environment. So I think there is also like an opportunity, right, because in the end, what we see now looking at simple, smaller thing like procuring most of the companies that are procuring stuff, so you would say how easy is it to make Circular Economy related requirements for procurement, making sure that there is a certain recycled percentage of recycled content in the material, or buying from suppliers that meet other requirements in that sense, and it's how easy that seems to talk about it, how difficult it is to actually make that happen. Also referring to the master agreements that Christian just highlighted as well that are in place before and after throughout the entire value chain of organisations. And there is of course, a challenge and at the same time, also referring to the importance of global collaboration here because those value chains cross borders anyways. And it's really a matter of changing also a cross border, even though a lot of countries have now implemented a national plan to transition to Circular Economy. Really, the need to at least open up and towards also outside of your country is one of the things to do. And I think to sum up like it's also interesting how legislation is now changing into that direction, because we see also with, for instance, reporting on non financial information, which I believe is maybe not the right wording, because in the end, we call nonfinancial information. But actually it has an impact on your financials anyways, when you're talking about these topics. But it already gives some transparency on what's happening on the kind of potentially waste or energy consumption of these companies, and how are they dealing with materials, not only inside their own organisation, but even in their entire value chain? So everyone is asking each other's question, no one is really able to answer it today. But I feel that legislation can give that push actually, to actually start doing that. And similar to reporting, you also see other alternatives like the the Right to Repair, but also like Digital Product Passports that need that every product needs some transparency, or at least some information, where is it coming from, and all those kinds of things, they really help to push everyone if not motivated intrinsically than, at least to do it.

Christian van Maaren  24:43

And I think maybe also to quickly add to that, because we've talked a lot about barriers, and I think that's are usually very pragmatic. And I think we try to be as well. So it's always good to think about what is possible, and then what is working. And what we do see is that when there is for example, support from the government in the form of subsidies, or grants, or even also, sometimes working together with branch organisations is that you do get that opportunity to work together with different players in the value chain. Anne and I are worked together on an Horizon 2020 project with a number of airports in Europe, or the TULIPS Green Airports project, in which we are setting the benchmark for what circular airports should or perhaps could look like in the future, looking both at material streams coming out of the construction or the built environment of the airport, but also the operational waste streams. I think, Anne can share a lot more about that. And we're also actually working together with Consortium of Labour organisations in Europe, that also expressed a desire to make their whole value chain a bit more circular. And when you work on those levels, then all of a sudden, a lot of these barriers that we talked about before, they're still there. But they are, you can see that there is a bit more appetite to solve it. Because it's sort of like you create this environment of pre competition, even though of course, there always is this bit of competition there. But it opens up a little bit. And I think that's really, I would say a very important ingredient in really advancing the Circular Economy agenda.

Emily Swaddle  26:15

Yeah, thank you for bringing in the sort of whole supply chain element because I think that individual actions, I mean, you mentioned that everyone has a part to play. And I think that individual actions only, as we know, from talking about this, so long, Barry and I, but that only gets you so far, and that this is really a systems change, and that everyone does have a part to play. And as you say, Christian, that the collaboration is so important that systems don't change by an individual taking on some kind of change or some kind of leadership role. It's also really interesting to hear your perspective of how legislation plays a part in that, you know, as a sort of, like, motivator towards collaboration. I think that's really interesting as well.

Anne Rademaker  27:04

Yeah. And it really brings also more people into an organisation, into this transition, this legislative part, even though maybe should not be like that. But we're talking about potentially financial benefits, we're talking about environmental benefits that are clearly there. But also those parts are not often enough for companies or people to really take action, kind of like comparing that with with driving in a car. Some people, they just like to drive just really, really, really fast. And they might not even stop if they get a fine for it, right. So linking that to legislation. I mean, of course, if there is legislative frameworks in place, it might stop a lot of organisations or individuals to act in a certain way, but it still might not stop all, right? So it still comes back to constantly finding the right incentives then, and motivation for change. And these are all building blocks, I feel that are definitely part of the system change. But we're really not here that and we're and we're also failing, you know, we're trying out things that are clearly not happening or not really helping. And then there are sometimes things that are suddenly working like the collaborations that Christian is referring to. Suddenly, even competing companies are willing to pair up in a project to just test out like circular building principles, or making resource passports. How cool is that? You know that they are willing to share data and that they are actually teaming up, to try out things because everyone knows, trying out things is is nice, but it also costs money and trying out if there is a potential benefit is also very interesting to do in a group setting so that you can also share the potential costs of failing. And also benefit all from the potential succeeding of that. And you see more and more of these initiatives arise, which, which definitely is a way forward. And even though there is always a little bit of competing between the partners, I also see that within regional collaboration. So I've launched a tool to actually assess the circularity of regions, and co-created that with other partners as well, different provinces, the provinces of Island was really initiating it. And ProActBlue took really the leading role in this as well. But what you see, and that's so interesting and intriguing about it is that the tool is meant and specifically built for knowledge exchange so that regions do not compete. But that team up really, because these are topics that are relevant for all regions across the world. So regions can fill out a questionnaire, yes, no question's really easy. They get their own circular score, and they can benchmark it with other regions. So they can also learn from other regions. And there's knowledge exchange taking place. And even though it's built for not competition play field, you still see that it's happening, because somehow organisations, regions are individual, they just want to, in general, show that they're a bit better than the other, even though in this aspect. And as long as you accept that and maybe be able to play with that even, I think you are just fine in this transition path, at least more initiatives and people are joining.

Barry O'Kane  30:28

That's really cool and really exciting. And there's several sort of clear examples of what we're talking about there. The other thing that I really like about what you're saying, and that we've thought we're really exploring in this season of the podcast is sort of embracing the complexity of it all, right? As you say, like circularity and a circular transition is not easy. We've talked about the challenges of it and then as you described thing feels like, well, things fail and they fail, and then suddenly, something will work. And you've got traction, and this activity happening and results happening. And embracing all of that. Also, I liked what you said, Anne,  about looking at it  step by step. But within the context of the system change, I really think that's cool. So what would be kind of fun, I think, for a few minutes, if you're able to share more specifics about how the Excess Materials Exchange solves some of those problems you talked about.

Christian van Maaren  31:15

Yes, I think the sort of the aim of the platform is really to seduce companies and individuals to start behaving in what we would call the right way, right? It's by adopting Circular Economy principles. And it's based on a on a set of tools really, which is at its core, the resources passport is to give these excess materials be secondary materials, or waste or whatnot and identity. And by giving it that identity, making it also a lot easier for these materials streams to find a new home. I heard once someone say that waste are basically materials that have lost their way. You know, by giving them at least these passports, they'll have a way to find their way back. And then to have the ability to track and trace these materials. So to connect them with for example RFID tags or QR codes, so you can easily see where they are, or maybe also even where they've been, which I think also for a lot of quality assurance and quality control purposes can be quite useful, but also to share with the end user "the story of stuff", so they can actually see where their stuff has been and what it has been through. Which I think to be honest, more and more is becoming part of the unique selling proposition of a number of the organisations that we work with, then to use the data in the passport as well to create embedded impact analysis. So you can see what the impact is of the materials. So you also understand why perhaps you should conserve the use of them or conserve them in general, but also to understand what the impact of savings can be if you reuse them in a high value way. And then lastly, sort of bridge where we would call and this sounds maybe very technical information asymmetries. And with that, I mean, make it very easy for companies to understand what the potential can be of these materials. Well, is there a hidden ambition? What else could they be in a next life and that sounds maybe a bit vague, but with that, I mean that we use artificial intelligence and machine learning to basically connect these material streams with high value next uses, be either in reuse or remanufactured refurbishment or, or recycling. And I think those are the technical elements of it, which is important. But I think as you know, as you may have noticed in this conversation, we spend a lot of time actually talking about the people and about processes. And  that's the other part of it is to enable organisations to work with these tools and to embed them into different processes they work with. And maybe also Anne can share a little bit more about how that then perhaps works in practice.

Anne Rademaker  33:44

So to give the example of, we talked about the collaboration that is taking place within Europe to more or less, make the whole aviation sector more sustainable. So what we are actively working on today with three airports in Europe of which Schiphol is coordinating, is to actually also create a research passport like Christian is explaining, while being, of course, very active on people and processes to begin with. But you see that defining a pilot location, because obviously, you cannot take an entire airport into passport just now. So we're making it again, small, we're trying to see can we like to start with like one dedicated area, where we start to map let's say, all the materials that would be able even to be reused. While we're doing it, we're seeing a lot of positive things, meaning there often is already quite some data available, especially in construction, there are already information systems like BIM that provide already quite some information. However, we also see there is still a gap with the type of information that we are looking at, right? Because, obviously, we want to know more about where is this coming from, or what are the dimension, but also really, the material consists of talking about, for instance, recycled content in it, that can give us already a feeling of what are the materials that we're talking about also linking it to matching potential reuse opportunities. So what you're seeing here, we're spending quite some time to collect the data in order to really to build the passports. And once the passport is there with Christian explaining, there are technologies to make sure that this material or product can find the next location, relatively easy right inside or outside the airport. But that really is the next step. And we're not even there yet, taking those into consideration this process. And I think it's just very interesting learnings that these airports, apart from the objectives that we're sharing in the specific programme, but these airports already are heading in that direction. They have similar objectives, they are working with contractors that are also taking into consideration these objectives. So it feels like you're not the only one, even if you're a company, the only one that wants a change. No, it feels that you can really build on the momentum that is there and connect forces with your supply chain partners, because most of them have a objective about zero waste or maybe even circularity more specifically. But you see that the willingness to collaborate is there the practical ways of doing so, for instance, by using the AMA platform is still for many, many companies one step too far. Even though there are great examples that Christian can also talk about.

Christian van Maaren  36:41

Yeah, but I think that Anne's work also comes in identifying what are the gaps, like what do they need to be able to use the platform and for example, in the built environment, what we're now seeing, and that's one of the things that we're now working on these  TULIPS projects. So identify what are, for example, common elements that can always be reused in a new building. So those are the elements that that we would then perhaps take out of a renovation project or out of a project with a little bit more care, and perhaps maybe even store it somewhere at a location where it can be stored safely. So that then a product developer or an architect or whatnot, can see that through the platform, and then implement that in a new design. So the platform becomes sort of like a conduit for making things happen. But the process bits and creating ways to make that happen are, I would say, as important or maybe even more important, sort of like the the Ark of Noah strategy, like build and they will come doesn't necessarily fly  for the Circular Economy transition.

Barry O'Kane  37:43

That's an amazing example of what you're describing there as well making it real as you're describing. And I love that last bit you shared there, Christian, about the fact that you can potentially identify ahead of a renovation or project, the materials that you really want to reuse, so it changes the process. And that allows you to sort of increase the value or keeps the value. That's that sort of specific example, as you were saying, Anne,  that's like a one of the little bites, one of the little steps that can kind of fit into the ladder of this whole transition. And so we've sort of touched on the huge complexity and everything and we've also got some brilliant examples of the work that you're doing and to make it concrete, I'd love to keep going. I'd love to keep going and get into more and more depth and some more stories. But we can't unfortunately, we can't keep going forever. So what would be amazing is, I think for the listeners, if there's places they can go to find out more about the work both about Exccess Materials Exchange, but also about the other work that you're doing.

Christian van Maaren  38:37

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, they can go to our website and they can email us at [email protected]. They can connect with us on LinkedIn. And then happy to set up meetings to give a demo of the platform, to share with them the work that we have done. And we work in many different domains. And we're actually very excited about getting new and weird materials to work on. Because that doesn't only excite us, but also helps to make the whole platform more robust and make the ways that we work more robust. So we're very much looking for more sort of data and more bytes, as Anne says it, to chew on that really helps us become better as a platform and as an organisation.

Anne Rademaker  39:20

Perfectly said, nothing had nothing to add on that. And definitely happy to continue talking with you or with anyone interested in this topic. So feel free to reach out.

Barry O'Kane  39:30

Amazing. Thank you, I will definitely take you up on that. And follow up with future conversations. Thank you both for joining us and spending some time talking about yourselves and your story, which is inspiring. And then the real concrete work that you're doing. We really appreciate your time.

Christian van Maaren  39:44

Thanks. Great. Thanks. Thanks, Emily. We appreciate it.

Emily Swaddle  39:46

Thank you both. I hope you find plenty more weird and wonderful materials to work with.

Christian van Maaren  39:52

Also, too! There's some interesting stuff that we sometimes come across.

Emily Swaddle  40:00

Thank you for listening to this episode of HappyPorch Radio. You can find past episodes, transcripts and show notes at You can also get in touch with us there and let us know what you think or if you have any ideas or comments. Please rate the podcast, share and subscribe so that more people can find the show.

Barry O'Kane  40:18

Thanks for listening. My name is Barry O'Kane. I founded HappyPorch who fund and support this podcast. At HappyPorch we do technology and software development for purpose led businesses and we're particularly excited about the role of digital as an enabler for the Circular Economy. If you're working on solutions to the big problems we face today, problems like climate change, biodiversity loss and global inequality then let's connect,visit and get in touch.


Emily Swaddle  40:43

And I'm Emily Swaddle, podcaster coach, facilitator and storyteller. You can find me on my other podcast, the Carbon Removal Show, and you can find out more about that project and everything else I do at where you can also subscribe to my Newsletter All about Rest. If you're interested in anything I do, feel free to connect. You can email me on [email protected]