Solid Waste & Recycling


Netherlands Waste Management Themed Trade Mission- Day 1

Things started with a bang today. With some still struggling to wipe away jet-lag’s cobwebs we set out on a very full day. This blog presents some highlights from various site visits and then provides some background information on each place visited. Consider following me on @2cg_ to get updates throughout each day.

1. Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment

The Netherlands is a densely populated country of 17 million with 500 inhabitants per square kilometer. Annually they produce about 60 million tonnes of waste per year (using a broader definition of wastes than in Canada).

In 1988 they had a relatively low recovery rate (55%) (low according to themselves).  At that point they were only diverting 16% of their household waste. At that time they had 157 landfills but only four years of capacity. They had insufficient thermal treatment capacity because of issues with dioxins. In short they were in crisis.

A key issue was that there was no national planning system at that point. Municipalities were responsible for household waste and Provinces responsible for permitting etc. There was little National (i.e. federal) involvement.

To deal with this crisis a National Waste Policy was established with the following key planks:

  1. Order of preference (prevention at the top and landfilling on the bottom)
  2. Stringent standards (e.g. decrees on landfills and thermal treatment, environmental standards for building materials, compost use and by 1995 a ban of 35 waste materials to landfill).
  3. Planning on a National level (e.g. Waste Consultation Council and development of National Waste Management Plans-includes minimum standards for about 100 waste streams)
  4. Producer responsibility (e.g. electrical and electronic equipment, end of life vehicles, tires, batteries and packaging) (industry responsibility for collection processing and financing).
  5. Various instruments (e.g. landfill tax –ca. 1998 used to support landfill bans from 1995- up to 110 euros in 2011; municipal volume/weight based fees for households)
  6. The landfill tax was ultimately revoked because there were insufficient wastes being landfilled to administer this tax. An incinerator tax is about to be added. 

Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment

Lack of space and growing environmental awareness forced the Dutch Government to take measures early on to reduce landfilling. This commitment from the Dutch Government gave companies more confidence to invest in new and innovative techniques. Now-a-days the Netherlands is one of the front runners in waste management in Europe and the world. The Netherlands has a total recycling factor of more than 80% and is still ambitious to increase this. The Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment is one of the government agencies responsible for achieving this goal by introducing new policies and monitoring the existing ones.

2. Municipality of The Hague

There are about 230,000 households in The Hague that generate about 230,000 tonnes/year. They are moving to install subterranean waste bins (5m3 for 35-40 households to use). Each household pays a tax for waste collection and processing, for all streams. Each household pays about 300 euros per year for service (varies from 280-320 depending on the number of people living in a household). Wastes managed by public-private consortium called HVS (owned by the City, operatated by a private waste contractor).

Municipality of The Hague

The municipality of The Hague is responsible for the collection of the waste of almost 511,000 inhabitants (the third largest city of the Netherlands).

3. Modulo-Béton

In Zaandam we visited a Modulo-Beton public depot that allows residents to deliver the typical materials that one deposits at depots (e.g. leaf and yard wastes, various metals, various wood, bulky waste etc.). What is unique about this system is that modular concrete blocks are used to construct these facilities. Residents drive up a ramp to the drop off depot and drop their materials into bins (set up in a saw tooth fashion). What is most interesting about this technology is that the blocks create usable space under the deck of the depot. In this case it was used as a household hazardous depot and general storage.


Modulo-Béton builds modular recycling depots for local authorities and the private sector. The system is made from pre cast concrete building pieces and assembled in a number of days. It consists of a raised deck where residential vehicles can access various bins. The area below the deck is usable and enclosed space that can be used for storage, an HHW depot and many other uses. A depot can be fully dismantled and moved as required.

4. Sortiva

We visited Sortiva in Alkmaar. They have a fully automated C&D sorting facility that was commissioned in 2010. Large excavators feed the waste onto conveyor systems that leads into a system of trommel screens, optical sorters, magnets and eddy currents to break the materials clean wood, biofuel (wood), metal, plastic and aggregate materials. There is no manual picking of any materials (except for some carpet at the end). A concern expressed was that the last two years have seen their incoming volumes decline by 35% as well as a drop in their tipping fees. This was blamed on the state of the economy and exacerbated by a current glut in incinerator capacity.


Sortiva processes C&D waste from private individuals, businesses and local authorities for reuse. Recycling gives waste materials like scrap wood, asphalt, rubble, plastic and paper a new lease on life as raw materials, building materials or fuel. Their core activities include sorting, recycling, processing and treating of various waste streams.

4. Mavitec

Mavitec has developed innovative technology to de-package a variety of food wastes. They are able to take a mixed stream of organics from grocery stores, which they shred and run through a shop return press. We saw a really interesting demonstration of the depackaging of food wastes from some grocery stores. The organic waste can be used in anaerobic digestion facilities. The packaging materials can be cleaned and used for fuel or ultimately recycled.


Mavitec Green Energy is a process technology company active in the food recycling industry. They provide complex process solutions in a simple, efficient and cost effective way, customized to the needs of their clients.

They engineer, deliver and install systems for the unpacking of (semi) wet co-products, the unpacking of dry co-products, recycling of curbside waste or brown bin waste, melting of fats/yellow grease, size reduction of agricultural co-products and sterilization and pasteurization of co-products.


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