Offering the inhabitants of Arnhem, in the Netherlands, a system that encourages them to sort waste

The town of Arnhem in Holland introduced a new collection system to encourage sorting and reduce the volume of residual waste. Designed and deployed by SUEZ, reverse collections have persuaded the inhabitants to change their habits and have enabled the local authority to shoot for a target of 75% of recycled waste by 2020.
The mission

Encourage sorting and minimise residual waste

In the Netherlands, the national target is to recycle 75% of household waste by 2020 and to promote the circular economy. The town of Arnhem decided to introduce a collection system that encouraged:
  • waste sorting at source; 
  • the reduction of residual waste;
  • the reduction of CO2 emissions.
Investigations were made to enable a system that facilitated recyclable waste sorting upstream and reduced the volume of residual waste.
the number of households involved in the new collection pilot project (year 2014)
the target for recycled household waste in the Netherlands by 2020
The number of households involved in the new system in Arnhem (since 2016)
Our solution

Reverse the principle of waste collection 

Encourage users to sort their waste at source by making the collection of residual waste more restrictive; this is the solution implemented by SUEZ for the town of Arnhem:
  • separated waste such as paper, packaging waste and organic waste are always collected through door-to-door rounds or at the foot of buildings;
  • residual waste must be deposited in an underground container in the neighbourhood.
Propose specific containers
We implemented the following principle for this solution:
  • inhabitants of low-rise buildings have three mini-containers in their building for: paper/cardboard, plastic packaging, organic waste (fruit, vegetables, garden waste). Their residual waste must be deposited in an underground container within a reasonable walking distance and accessible with a personal badge;
  • inhabitants of high-rise buildings must deposit their packaging waste, paper/cardboard and residual waste in underground collection containers. Organic waste is collected every fortnight using a regular city waste bin. 
All mini-containers are fitted with an RFID chip providing data on their use and changes to collection rounds.
Communicate about the new collection system
To make the pilot project a success, we consulted residents about their consumption habits, the choice of container location, the appropriateness of the system and the quality of service.
A field communication campaign was also deployed:
  • 12 "waste coaches" in daily contact with residents;
  • posters in each district publicising the progress made and encouraging them to make even more efforts; 
  • Three satisfaction surveys made just before the launch, six months after and one year after, enabled some adjustments to be made to the system.
The results
After successful testing in three districts of Arnhem, the reversed collection system was extended to the whole town in June 2015. It enabled higher sorting rates of recyclable waste and a lower volume of residual waste, without impairing the cleanliness of local streets.
Consulting inhabitants and securing their participation were the key factors in this success, enabling a genuine change in their sorting habits.
of CO2 emissions prevented each year
of clean spaces around the underground containers
less residual waste after six months