How does household waste management work in The Netherlands and my role in this process? Part 2

Previously we provided information about many of the everyday types of basic household waste, here in The Netherlands. We indicated who is responsible for everyday waste management, and how you can ensure you play your part in the recycling process to help keep our world a little greener and cleaner! Did you know The Netherlands is aiming to be a completely waste-free country by 2050?
The Netherlands currently has a top-down approach to waste disposal, with the following being the process followed from most preferred to least preferred:
·         Reduce – Eliminate or minimise waste at the source
·         Re-use – Use materials for a second use or an additional function
·         Recover – Recapture material or energy from the waste stream
·         Dispose – Incinerate waste without energy recovery and then landfill anything else.
It is important to note, that there is more to waste management systems in this country, then just the everyday basic waste streams. There are also waste disposal streams for additional items which we should be aware of and ensure we dispose of correctly.
The following is a list (not exhaustive) of additional ways we can help the waste management system run smoothly.
Batteries – Never dispose of batteries in residential waste, they are classified as small chemical waste and can cause fires, damage to normal waste containers and pollute our environment, if not disposed of correctly. You may not be aware, but some batteries can be recycled into new batteries, so, it’s best to dispose of them in the proper allocated battery collection bins. These can be found at most grocery, hardware stores, as well as at recycling centres. Known in Dutch as the “batterijenbak”.
Light bulbs – Most people try to use LED light bulbs these days, because they use 80% less power and last 20X longer and do not contain mercury. Unfortunately, fluorescent lamps and high-energy efficient lightbulbs can contain mercury, and therefore need to be disposed of carefully. Most grocery stores, hardware stores and recycling centres have special bins for recycling the above three different types of lightbulbs. For the old-fashioned incandescent lightbulbs (the one with the small filament inside) as well as halogen lamps, carefully wrap these in tissue or paper and dispose of them with normal household residual waste (the black/grey containers).
Medicines – It is important to know, that you should never flush old or unused medications/pills down toilets, as they should never enter our sewer systems for various biological and chemical reasons. Old or unused medications should always be disposed of by taking them back to pharmacies/medical facilities or using correctly marked waste containers for this at recycling centres. Pharmacies will evaluate medications brought back, and responsibly dispose of them. Try to ensure you remove labels from medication boxes, bottle or tubes when you dispose of them at recycling centres, to protect your identity.
On this topic, please always dispose of needles in specially marked needle containers either at pharmacies or medical facilities.
Chemicals/Chemical waste – This can be described further as printer cartridges, toners, caustic cleaning agents and their containers, oils, turpentine or painting materials etc. These types of waste are extremely harmful to our health and the environment and must be carefully disposed of. Certain municipalities offer the service of collecting chemical waste, with the use of a vehicle called a “chemokar”. Often this is done every three months or so. Check your local waste calendar or contact your municipality if you want more information on this service. Alternatively, if the above is not an option, you can dispose of this type of waste at waste separation and recycling centres, which will have suitable collection points. Be careful when travelling with chemical waste substances, always think of safety around this first.

Textiles and clothing – Before considering this type of waste for disposal, first consider if it can be re-used and given to someone else to use or wear again, even if it can be re-used for a different purpose. You could donate gently used clothing items to charities or Kringloops (second hand stores). Many cities have textile recycling bins, for the disposal of textiles. Always consider placing gently used clothing and other reusable textiles into sealed plastic bags, to protect them from water and other dirt if you place them in these large textile containers. You can also place damaged (but clean) textiles in bags, as these can still be recycled into raw textile materials used for heat or sound insulation. Just never place gently used or damaged textiles in the same bags.
ICT Equipment – Things like, computers, printers, phones, or scanners, again here, first consider if the item can still be used or reused first, before looking into disposal. If so, you can contact or Google “IT-recycling”. For well-functioning ICT Equipment, consider donating to charities, schools or Kringloops. If you are donating, selling or disposing of ICT equipment, consider the protection or removal of any (personal) data still sitting on hardware for your own protection.
Electronic equipment – Damaged smaller electronics can often be dropped off at special containers at hardware stores. Most large retail electronic and household appliance stores are required to have collection points for disposal of old electronic equipment and appliances also. Check with your local store if they offer this service. If not, you can take the item for free disposal at your local recycling centre. If you cannot transport it yourself to a recycling centre, contact your municipality and enquire if they have collection services for pick-up of such items.
Bulky waste – Items which are large and do not fit into normal waste containers are dealt with in the same manner as large Electronic Equipment above, in terms of dropping off at recycling centres or contacting your municipality for possible pick-up. These types of items are for example, mattresses, couches, washing machines or other very large electronic equipment. Remember to first consider if the item can be reused. Some Kringloops offer free-pick up for functioning equipment and furniture.
Statiegeld – Deposits are paid on both large and small plastic bottles of soft drinks and water. You will be charged an additional fee (the deposit) over and above the drinks’ price, you will see this on your till-slip when purchasing such items. Once you have emptied and finished the drink, you can bring the empty bottle (and cap) back to the store, and deposit it in the plastic bottle machines to receive your deposit back. The statiegeld deposit logo will be printed on the bottle if it is applicable. In this way ensuring these bottles can be easily recycled and do not pollute our world.
I truly believe, that if each and every single person does the best they can to help recycle waste, we can make a large and positive impact in keeping our world cleaner and greener.
I leave you with one of my favourite Twitter quotes from Anne Marie Bonneau “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”

Copywriter: Jennifer Lopes

Date: 25/02/2022

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