Here you see wind turbine and a tulip field

Sustainable Startups in the Netherlands

7 MIN READ | 2022-04-12

Sustainable Startups in the Netherlands: A Complete Guide

Sustainability is a hot topic in the business world right now. Consumers, investors and others are looking for businesses that operate in a sustainable manner. So what does it mean to be a sustainable startup? What are the common industries that sustainable startups are operating in? What are some promising sustainability startups in The Netherlands?

We will answer these questions for all the green startup job seekers reading this guide.

Why sustainability?

There are many reasons why sustainability is becoming an increasingly important focus for businesses. Here are some of the most common ones:


Consumers are increasingly interested in sustainable products

The Global Sustainability Study 2021, conducted by global strategy and pricing consultancy Simon-Kucher & Partners, revealed that sustainability is an essential purchase criterion for 60% of consumers. Moreover, 1/3 of consumers are reportedly willing to pay more for sustainable products.

This number will continue to grow as more and more people become aware of the impact their purchasing decisions have on the planet. Thus, the study reveals that companies should opt for sustainability, as it will become the norm and not the exception in the future.


Sustainability is good for the bottom line

Sustainability is often labeled as an unwise investment for organisations. However, according to insights on successful sustainability initiatives provided by Harvard Business School, Professor Rebecca Henderson explains that the intersection of “doing good” and “doing well” (known as the creation of shared value) is rather highly lucrative.

This is likely due to various factors, including lower costs (e.g. reduced resource consumption), higher employee productivity, and increased customer loyalty.


Sustainability is a crucial driver of innovation

As the world becomes increasingly aware of the need to reduce its environmental footprint, there is a growing market for sustainable products and services. This provides a massive opportunity for startups that can innovate in this space.

Moreover, sustainability can be a significant source of inspiration for new product and service ideas. As the world looks for ways to reduce our environmental impact, sustainable startups are in a unique position to provide solutions that meet this demand.

Sustainable startups vs Sustainability within startups

There is a crucial distinction between sustainable startups and startups that operate sustainably. Sustainable startups are businesses founded with the express purpose of being environmentally and/or socially responsible. They often have a product or service focused on sustainability, such as renewable energy, organic farming, or green construction.

On the other hand, sustainability within startups might not be their primary focus. Nevertheless, these businesses strive to operate sustainably, for example, by offsetting their carbon emissions or investing in energy-efficient technologies.


What is a sustainable startup?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the definition of sustainability can vary from startup to startup. However, there are some general characteristics that most sustainable startups have in common.

  • Environmentally conscious. Sustainable startups are typically focused on reducing their environmental impact. This may include using energy-efficient technologies, sourcing sustainable materials, or offsetting their carbon emissions.
  • Socially responsible. In addition to being environmentally conscious, sustainable startups are also typically focused on social responsibility. This means that they consider the impact of their business on society, and they strive to make a positive difference in the community.
  • Efficient in resources. Sustainable startups are often focused on efficiency, which means they use resources (e.g. energy, water, materials) sustainably.
  • Positively impactful. Ultimately, the goal of sustainability is to have a positive impact on both the community and the environment. Sustainable startups are typically the most effective at achieving this goal.


What is sustainability within startups?

While sustainable startups are focused on sustainability as their primary business model, startups that operate sustainably are not. Instead, these businesses often have practices and initiatives in place that help them reduce their environmental impact.

Some common examples of sustainability within startups include:

  • Carbon emissions offset. Many startups offset their carbon emissions by investing in clean energy or planting trees.
  • Sustainable materials. Startups that use sustainable materials, such as recycled paper or bamboo can help reduce their environmental impact.
  • Energy-efficient technologies. Startups that invest in energy-efficient technologies, such as LED lighting or low-energy appliances can help reduce their carbon footprint.


Car sharing. Car sharing is an excellent way for startups to reduce their environmental impact, as it eliminates the need for individual drivers to own cars.

Common industries for sustainable startups

There are several industries in which sustainable startups operate. Renewable energy is prevalent with businesses focusing on solar, wind, and hydropower. Other common industries include organic farming, green construction, and recycled materials.

 Let's explore some of these common industries in more detail.


Renewable energy

Renewable energy is a rapidly growing industry, and it's no surprise that sustainable startups are at the forefront. These businesses are often focused on solar, wind, or hydropower. Solar startups, for example, are businesses that focus on the development and deployment of solar technologies. Wind startups are businesses that focus on developing and deploying wind technologies. And hydropower startups are businesses that focus on developing and deploying hydropower technologies.


Organic farming

Another industry in which sustainable startups are prevalent is organic farming. These businesses often use sustainable practices, such as organic fertilisers and crop rotation, to minimise their environmental impact.


Green construction

Sustainable startups are making a difference with green construction. These businesses often focus on the development and deployment of green building technologies. Green building technologies are designed to be more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly than traditional construction methods.


Recycled materials

Recycled materials are another area in which sustainable startups are making an impact. These businesses often focus on the development and deployment of recycled materials technologies. Recycled materials technologies are designed to reduce the environmental impact of manufacturing by using recycled materials instead of raw materials.


Transportation & Mobility

The transportation and mobility industries are also seeing a rise in sustainable startups. These businesses often focus on the development and deployment of green transportation technologies. Green transportation technologies are more environmentally friendly than traditional transportation methods.

Promising sustainability startups in the Netherlands

There are several promising as well as inspiring sustainability startups in the Netherlands. 

Some of the most notable include:

  1. Fruitleather — fruit waste turned into leather-like materials for fashion and furnishings.
  2. Buurman — wood workshop & store for reclaimed buildings and other materials  
  3. Dick Moby — guilt-free recycled sunglasses
  4. Fairphone — old recycled phones
  5. Coffee Based — biobased products from coffee grounds
  6. Mud Jeans — ethical and environmentally friendly jeans
  7. Pieter Pot — package-free shopping 
  8. Kromkommer — unwanted vegetables repackaged into soup
  9. BlueCity — a playground for circular startups helping combat waste
  10. Wasteboards — handmade skateboards from recycled bottle caps
  11. Vibers — high tech & natural fibers from elephant grass
  12. Bluehouse World — platform to find ethical producers
  13. Gerrard Street — wireless headphones with a lifetime service
  14. Ioniqa — creating value out of PET waste
  15. Umincorp — disruptive plastic recycling
  16. Better Future Factory  — sustainable plastic products
  17. Fairm — 100% natural insulation material
  18. Loop — biodegradable coffins

Explore 101 sustainability startups and companies in the Netherlands!

Contributing as an employee at a sustainable startup

A sustainable startup must promote a green culture among its employees if it wants to succeed. And fortunately, there are many ways for employees to get involved and contribute to a sustainable startup.

Some of the most common ways for employees to contribute to sustainability include:

  1. Encouraging sustainable practices among co-workers (e.g. carpooling, recycling at the office)
  2. Educating others about sustainability issues (e.g. via social media)
  3. Working remotely to reduce energy consumption
  4. Pitching in on sustainability projects (e.g. working on the company's recycling program)


There are many ways for employees to contribute to a sustainable startup, and they need to find one that best suits their interests and skills.


The future of sustainable startups is looking bright. With the ever-growing concerns about climate change and the environment, these businesses are well-positioned to make a difference. If you're interested in starting a sustainable startup, you can choose from a number of booming industries. So whether you're interested in renewable energy, organic farming, green construction, or recycled materials, there's something for everyone.