Everyone who grew up in Rotterdam still remembers the swimming pool Tropicana, a former tropical swimming paradise in Rotterdam. From the outside Tropicana looks like an indoor swimming pool however the actual purpose of this building has completely changed. Today the Tropicana swimming pool is home to eighteen companies, mainly startups that run under the organization and new name of the building BlueCity. The innovative idea behind BlueCity is that the businesses of these entrepreneurs are all connected in some way to ensure every single possibility is used to avoid waste, in other words it’s a completely circular economy.
Aloha Bar-Restaurant is a bar and restaurant located by the Maas with a beautiful view of the Rotterdam skyline, they produces a lot of coffee waste. This coffee waste collected by Aloha is a nutritional base for the RotterZwam mushroom production. RotterZwam grows mushrooms from coffee waste – residual products that are usually discarded and not often reused. During the process of Rotterzwam, CO2 is released, which is used by Spireaux durig the production of spirulina. Spirulina is a blue-green saltwater alga, which is a popular nutritional supplement for health promotion. Mycelium a fungus produced during the RotterZwam process is used to develop packaging materials by the business BlueCity Lab and fungi (a type of mushroom) is available on the Aloha menu. A perfect circle but that’s not even everything.
Another circular process within BlueCity begins with the beeswax of city beekeeper Abderrahim Bouna. According to Abderrahim, bees produce more honey in the city than in the country side so he chose to locate his bees in back gardens, parks and rooftops. The honey is sold in BlueTiek, the circular shop of BlueCity. The bees beeswax is also used by furniture maker OKKEHOUT. OKKEHOUT gives demolished, wasted and pruning wood a second life.
Other business located in BlueCity are Community Plastics and Fruit Leather. Community Plastics collect local plastic waste and uses that to produce new products and brings these back to the local market. FruitLeather collects fruit waste from the local fruit markets and this is then converted into a leather-like material for bags, belts and other leather products.
Since the start of BlueCircle in 2013 a lot has changed. Tropicana has been developed from a deserted building to a swimming pool full of possibilities, a playground for circular companies, where waste does not exist. Who will be coming to Rotterdam this weekend to visit this young and innovative initiative?