Role of PMBs in promotion of circular economy

Making insights actionable

Port Managing Bodies (PMBs) needs to play an active role to promote circularity in seaports

Five steps to promote circularity can be distinguished:

  1. Define circularity. Based on our research, we advocate making a distinction between initiatives to promote circularity of waste generated in the port and initiatives to attract circular activities that use waste generated outside the port to the port business ecosystem.
  2. Analyse the current state with regards to circularity as defined above.
  3. Set CE priorities in line with the profile of the port. For instance, ports in urban areas (like for instance Aarhus) with limited space are best off focusing on promoting the circularity of port activities, while ports with large industrial functions (like North Sea Port) may focus on attracting circular activities and waste flows to the port.
  4. Develop a small set of performance indicators to measure progress in advancing circularity, in line with the CE priorities.
  5. Take initiatives to promote circularity in line with the indicators as developed.


PMBs, especially the landlord ports which are common on the European continent are public or hybrid (public shareholders with a private legal status). PMBs used to have a narrow ‘landlord role’, among others leasing land and organising (safe) traffic within their waters, whereas in the last two decades they became more active cluster managers. They took up new roles, for example orchestrating collaboration between port operators, in view of bundling traffic to stimulate a modal shift. However, PMBs are still exploring their role with regard to the circularity transition.

Insights summarized

Stakeholders as well as shareholders of PMBs push them to play a leading role with regard to the transition towards sustainability, for instance through creating more sustainable jobs, modal shift efforts, lower or zero emissions, and handling and generation of clean energies. One relevant part is to encourage more circularity of supply chains and attract circular activities.