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

Part 1:

We all want to live in a greener and cleaner environment, and The Netherlands strives towards this goal. As an individual and a household, we are required to abide by certain waste management protocols. These protocols do vary between municipalities, so it is especially important to check what is required of your household in your specific municipal area. Your taxes pay for these processes, so it is vital you understand how they work.

It is also important to understand the rules around household waste removal, as they can be strict. For example, what rubbish goes where, how to position your roadside waste containers, and when to put them out. Breaking these rules, can result in fines, and YES – they do have waste inspectors who sporadically check what you have placed in various waste containers!

Some municipalities provide waste systems for your home, such as rubbish bins or cans which are collected on the roadside by the local waste removal company at certain (but usually regular) times of the month or week. Others provide communal waste containers, either above or below ground for various waste types, and are emptied by the local waste removal company once full or at certain intervals.

All of this can be ascertained by checking your local waste system’s website or downloading the applicable app. Here you will be able to see which days different household waste is collected in your area or where the closest communal waste container is located. It is important to know that for certain waste containers you may require a “waste container key-card” which are allocated per household if applicable, via your local municipality.

So, let’s talk practicalities. Firstly, knowing what goes where is particularly important, and this can be checked on the internet, waste management websites or your local refuse company’s app. If still in doubt, speak to a neighbour, or simply email your municipality, they will assist you. You will often see the following four colours, where household waste management is concerned:

1 – Blue – Paper recycling – In Dutch known as the papierbakken

This is the blue bin or container and the communal containers are often located near the “glass” recycling containers at shops or parking-lots. They may also be in a public space in your local suburb (wijk). It is important to understand what “types” of paper can be recycled. You don’t want to receive a fine for putting the incorrect thing in your paper recycling container!

2 – Green – Organic waste – In Dutch known as the groenbak or gft (groente, fruit en tuinafval)

This is the green bin or container. All organic waste goes in the green bin, including garden clippings and grass, but be sure not to place large wooden pieces into this bin, as it disrupts the machines and organic composting processes. About two thirds of this type of waste is made into compost and reused by both the municipality and farmers. As organic waste can get messy and stinky (you know what we mean…). Here are a few tips to help with this,

  • Don’t leave you bin in full sun or a hot place,
  • Place this waste into the bin as dry as possible, so squeeze out liquids from organic waste, allow grass clippings to dry for a day or two,
  • Don’t clean these bins with chlorine products, they disrupt the composting process,
  • Special composting bags are available to help keep your green bin a little cleaner, alternatively a couple of newspaper sheets at the bottom of the bin help too,
  • Cat litter does NOT go in the green bin – This is a big no no!

3 – Orange – Plastic and packaging waste – Known in Dutch as verpakking or PMD (Plastik, metaal en drinkkarton)

This is the orange bin or container. Certain municipalities pick up verpakking bags directly from the curb side. Most packaging is recyclable these days. This waste stream is for plastic packaging waste, tins and tetrapak packages (e.g. fruit juice/milk containers). It is NOT for hard plastics, like children’s toys or garden furniture. A top tip here, is to clean/rinse this type of waste as much as you can, it really helps keep the recycling process more efficient and not get ruined.

4 – Black – All other non-recyclable waste – Known in Dutch as restafval

Anything which is not green, blue or orange waste, or any of the below, is then allocated to normal household waste, and is collected in black or grey containers. If your municipality does not provide such a bin, you can search for your closest communal “restafval” waste container. This waste is most often incinerated and used for energy purposes.

But… it doesn’t end there! The following household waste management systems are also in place for us all, more information on this will follow in Part 2 of this blog.

  • Batteries
  • Light bulbs
  • Medicines
  • Chemicals
  • Textiles and clothing
  • Statiegeld – Beer and cooldrink containers
  • ICT Equipment

X-large household waste

Copywriter: Jennifer Lopes

Date: 25/02/2022

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