The SMITHZ project: Helping manufacturers realise take steps towards circularity

The SMITHZ project is part of the research group ‘’Smart Sustainable Manufacturing’’ in collaboration with the group “Circular Business” at Mission Zero. This project aims to build business cases presenting best practices of manufacturers in taking steps towards circularity, for other companies to learn from. In this interview, we speak to Sander Limonard, the project lead, as well as Erik, a student intern, about their involvement in the project.


Please introduce yourself

Sander: “I am Sander Limonard, researcher in the field of business models and lecturer in the field of entrepreneurship at The Hague University of Applied Sciences” 

Erik: “My name is Erik. I’m a student at the Hague University of Applied sciences and I’m studying for a bachelor in Industrial Engineering and Management.”

What is your role within the SMITHZ project? 

Sander: “I serve as a project lead for SMITZH as a whole. I am responsible for reaching out to manufacturing companies who made a circular step to make their story available to the rest of the world.”

Erik: “I’m an intern for the SMITZH project. I’m mainly focusing on creating the business cases of manufacturing companies who made a circular step. These business cases are made available for manufacturing companies within Zuid-Holland that consider taking a step towards more circular solutions. The cases are built on our own desk research of said companies as well as interviews, to show their best practice of making a circular step.”

What is your key learning from the project?

Erik: “The key learning for me was trying to funnel the amount of information available to a more cohesive story that could help a company. With these questions in mind: What information is actually useful? And how do I present it?”

What is your most interesting result from the project thus far?

Sander: “Only a fraction of the Dutch SMEs in the manufacturing industry that embrace circularity as a guiding principle are mission driven. The majority works on becoming more circular out of pragmatic or opportunistic motives. Also, the majority of SMEs in the Dutch manufacturing industry are able to make the transition towards a more circular business model without even knowing it.”

What are your ambitions with SMITHZ?

Sander: “To support SMEs in finding their role in the transition towards a circular society.”