Start your shop sustainably

You are opening your new shop and bursting with plans and ideas. But have you also thought about sustainability? You can start by buying environmentally friendly products, for example, or using an electric delivery van. Thinking about sustainability before you open your shop will save you time later, and maybe money as well.

The earth is warming, and the consequences are dire: from mass extinction to melting ice caps and rising sea levels. To minimise the negative consequences, more and more rules are being introduced to make Dutch businesses more sustainable. Things like the energy efficiency obligation, for example, and the ban on free disposable plastic cups and containers. Sustainability should be a key consideration from the moment you start your shop. This will help you be ready for future laws and rules. For example, when you are choosing a building or buying a delivery van.


The Netherlands aims to be climate-neutral and prevent as much waste as possible by 2050. So, the authorities are introducing more and more rules for waste. Currently, you are required to separate your waste and keep the area around your shop clean.

Separating waste

Every entrepreneur is required to separate paper, glass, and organic waste. Does your shop also produce textile or wood waste? If so, then you must also separate that as well. Fill in the waste separation tool for businesses and learn which rules apply to your shop. If you sell drinks in cans or bottles, you should provide a special collection bin. That will help you collect packaging with a deposit. The benefits include less litter near your shop and savings on waste disposal costs.

Is your shop smaller than 40 square meters? Then you probably do not have enough space for several different waste bins. In that case, you are not required to separate paper, glass, and organic waste.

UPV textiles

If you import clothing or household textiles, you are responsible for the collection and re-use of waste textiles. This is known as uitgebreide producentenverantwoordelijkheid, or UPV (Extended producer responsibility or EPR).

Preventing litter

As a shop owner, you are required to keep the area around your shop clean. You must clean up all the litter within 25 meters of your shop. So put out a waste bin near your shop to prevent customers from littering. If you sell food or drinks, you are required to provide a waste bin.

Ban on single-use plastic

Do you sell fresh food and drinks, like coffee, tea, or sandwiches? You may not give free single-use plastic cups and containers to your customers. 

Sustainable procurement

When you buy products for your shop, you think about the price, quality, and delivery times. But you can also think about buying socially responsible products. That means only buying products that are good for people and the environment. The government expects you to do business in a socially responsible way. That means you and your partners must work responsibly, with respect for people and the environment. Use the CSR Risk Check tool to find out if the products you buy present any social risks.

Mandatory sustainability reporting

Large companies must report on how sustainable their supply chain is. Do you supply goods or services to large companies? If so, you must tell them exactly what effect your company has on people and the environment.

Financing for sustainability

Starting a shop costs money. Making a sustainable start will also require extra investment. Do you need to borrow money to make your company more sustainable? If so, the government can offer a loan guarantee. The SME Credit Guarantee Scheme - Green (BMKB-Groen) helps reduce the risk for your lender and makes it easier for you to borrow money.

Sustainable premises

A sustainable retail building can save you money and improve the comfort of your customers and employees. Are you looking for a location for your shop? Ask if the building you are looking at is well-insulated and has double glazing. If that is not the case, you can choose to make the building more sustainable yourself. If you do not know where to start, or which changes would have the most benefit, you can ask an energy consultant for help. They will inspect your shop and advise on the best places to start. 

Improving sustainability as a tenant

Are you renting the building? If so, you must talk with the owner before you start to make the building more sustainable. If you are not sure how to start the conversation, you can send this model letter (in Dutch) drawn up by sector organisation InRetail to your landlord.

Make small changes

Even small changes (in Dutch) can help you save energy. For example, keeping your shop door closed can cut your energy use by up to 40%. Other small changes can help as well. For example, use dynamic lighting that only turns on when customers are in the shop. And install weather strips and door closers to help keep warm or cool air inside your shop.

Energy saving obligation

In some cases, you may be required to make your shop more sustainable. If you consume more than 50,000 kWh of electricity or 25,000 cubic metres of gas, then you have to take all possible energy-saving measures that can be recouped within 5 years.

Energy savings check

Use the Netherlands Enterprise Agency’s Energy Savings Check tool (in Dutch) to check which legal obligations apply to your company or premises in terms of saving energy and reducing CO2 emissions.

Sustainable transportation

Do you need a car or a delivery van for your shop? If so, it might be a good idea to invest in an electric vehicle. Starting in 2025, Dutch municipalities are allowed to introduce zero-emission zones. You will only be allowed to enter these areas if your van meets the requirements. 

Starting from 2030, Dutch car dealers will not be allowed to sell any more petrol- or diesel-powered vehicles. Keep that in mind when buying a vehicle for your shop. If you want to keep driving the same vehicle for at least 10 years, think about buying an electric vehicle today. The government wants to encourage business owners to switch to electric vehicles. Several grants and subsidies are available to help you buy an electric vehicle.