Products, don’t let them go to waste.

Concerning recycling and waste management in the municipality of Leiden

The municipality of Leiden produces an annual average of 420 Kg waste per person; this is less than the average of the entire Netherlands which lies at a stunning 500 Kg waste per person. This indicates that there is less of a consuming trend in the municipality which is a good thing, but being below the national average isn’t a goal in itself, but reaching an economy and society in which we make the maximum use of the available resources is. Ideally, this means that all waste products a person leaves in the trash still have a place within the economy besides a landfill.

Household waste makes up two thirds of the average waste per person and there is no way this can be (re)used directly, therefor it must go through a recycling process. This process differs for a lot of materials, there is simple not a single method to recycle different products. Whether the products are different kinds of plastics, metals or paper, they all have their own chemical properties and a single process can’t properly recycle them.

26 per cent!?
This separation starts with the individual waste, according to Rijkswaterstaat only 26% of all fine household waste produced in the municipality of Leiden was separated in 2014, this is a stunning 20% lower compared to that of the entire country. The years before weren’t that impressing either, 25% in both 2013 and 2012, and strangely 27% in 2011, the numbers of the rough household waste are 20% beneath the national average as well, with no visible increase over the past couple of years. Where did this movement lose its momentum?

Rijkswaterstaat: Collected household waste per municipality

It is fair to say that it’s not by lack of private or corporate initiative, there are companies and organizations striving to ‘make more from waste’ as the Shanks group does. From the 5 million ton waste they collect per year they are able to recycle up to 87%. But on the other hand there seems to be a definite lack from the municipality. Of course the producers of the waste should hold up to their responsibility but separating your household waste often comes with a big inconvenience and no immediate gain -except for the green conscience, which is mostly for the interested.

In the municipality of Leiden there is a clear lack of separate garbage disposal available. Three to four years ago the garbage was simply put in bags on the streets. Whilst this has been solved and there is a proper way to dispose of your general household waste they seem to lack the separation. If the garbage collection system is capable of handling the separated waste then there should be a convenient way to dispose of your waste separately, such as collection points near supermarkets, not general park bins but bins with divided slots and promote the means and gains of waste separation. The technology is available and we already left the consumer mindset let us enter the circular mindset and at least meet the national average for recycling at almost 50%.