Since the beginning of this year, the Madaster Foundation has strengthened its presence in the Netherlands and Germany. When Joris Hillebrand started as the director of the global Madaster Foundation, Gerhard Feldmeyer started as the Madaster Foundation’s representative in Germany. We spoke to Joris Hillebrand and Gerhard Feldmeyer to find out more about them and the foundation.
Encouraging the circular economy through material passportsHillebrand: ‘The Madaster Foundation considers the earth a closed system from which there should be no waste. By registering and documenting products and materials within the built environment, as is done on the Madaster Platform, they lose their anonymity which ultimately prevents them from ending up as landfill.’ Feldmeyer says he first experienced this with The Cradle project in Düsseldorf. ‘Around 2020, we planned the construction of a C2C-inspired office building. Many data on materials and products were collected in the material passport so that they would remain available throughout the life cycle of the building. The Cradle is registered on the Madaster Platform, for the benefit of the owner and for the future availability of its resources.’
Who is developing the Madaster Platform?Hillebrand explains that companies can develop and operate the Madaster Platform with the permission of the Madaster Foundation. However, this is not done without supervision. ‘The foundation owns the Madaster name and its use is conditional with regard to service, compliance with business rules and financial stability, to ensure data availability. The licence also stipulates that all metadata from the platform must be used for the benefit of the community, i.e. the commons. The Madaster Foundation oversees proper use of the licence, with a focus on data privacy and security.’
What made you decide to go and work for the Madaster Foundation?While Feldmeyer already felt enthusiastic about Madaster’s vision and way of working when he first heard about Madaster, the Madaster story was still completely new to Hillebrand. Hillebrand: ‘I was approached by Martijn Oostenrijk and Pablo van den Bosch, board members of Madaster Services. We had worked together earlier in our professional lives, consulting for financial institutions. I did a lot of work in the field of financial regulation. They were looking for someone for the foundation with an understanding of business services and finance, with knowledge of the legislative process in Europe and with an affinity for universities and research. This meant that my PhD in computer science was also an advantage, but I had not heard of Madaster before. I decided to read the book Material Matters and got inspired. I am convinced that material passports are a hugely powerful tool for financial institutions to monitor the carbon footprint of their balance sheets. Nevertheless, I have yet to see banks using this on a large scale. The idea of being part of this story and helping dissemination of its message really appeals to me.”
What are your objectives for the Madaster Foundation?Both Feldmeyer and Hillebrand are convinced that a material registry like Madaster should grow naturally. Feldmeyer: ‘What Madaster has achieved since its launch in Germany in 2021 is pretty impressive. Yet, this is only the beginning. Several factors determine the pace of growth, such as growing public awareness, upcoming regulations including ESG, EU Taxonomy as well as sustainability goals of countries and cities.’ Mandatory use of material passports in all relevant sectors across the European Union is of course the ultimate goal,’ Hillebrand points out, ‘but it is not the only way to achieve our objectives. For construction companies and property owners, the use of material passports has significant benefits. They provide insight into the salvage value of the materials used, the embedded carbon and the degree of circularity. These insights also help to comply with other circularity-related regulations. Other goals we want to focus on, therefore, concern sharing this knowledge, convincing industrial players to start working with material passports, and facilitating pilot projects.’ For more information, please visit the Madaster Foundation website.
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