Amsterdam to separate plastic trash for its residents, doing away with its orange bins

Amsterdam flag
The Amsterdam flag flying above the city. August 2013George RexFlickrCC-BY-SA

Residents in Amsterdam will no longer need to separate plastic recycling from their trash once city-owned waste management firm AEB launches a new setup to separate out plastic and drink cartons for them. "If we separate it after collection, we are less dependent on good behavior," the city said in a statement.

The machines used for this task have improved significantly, the city said. "As a result, machines can separate more plastic than we Amsterdammers ourselves."

The city will also allow people to dispose of their fruit, vegetable and garden waste separately. At this moment all three are most frequently tossed out in the normal trash, though worm hotels can be found in many neighborhoods allowing area residents to compost some organic waste.

As part of the new circular approach to garbage, Amsterdam reaffirmed its plan to prevent reusable matter and repairable items from being incinerated or dumped. “Amsterdam is becoming a city where waste no longer exists but is the raw material for new products," said Alderperson Marieke van Doorninck. "That is why it is important that waste is separated better. Due to this, valuable raw materials are preserved."

The number of places in which Amsterdammers can dispose of their separated garbage is also set to increased, with 350 glass and paper containers being added per year in the coming years. The city council has said that it will be making a definitive decision on the plans in September. 

"The ideal is that waste no longer exists at all," the city said. "It can and must also be cleaner on the street, so more underground containers will be created so that you can more easily separate your waste and offer it properly."​