July 20, 2016

This Rubbish is a Serious Business!

Every single household in The Netherlands has a part to play in waste management.  There would be at least 3 different types of bins in each household because sorting out rubbish is one serious business here.

These are the three visible bins we have in our backyard:

  • Green – Used for only organic or biodegradable waste such as vegetables, fruits, leftover food etc
  • Orange – Used for only plastic and aluminium
  • Black – For everything else 
Rubbish bins in the backyard


We also have a separate makeshift bins for cartons/papers and a crate in which we separate out glass bottles. Those are stored in the shed.

There is a curbside collection system. When the time comes to empty the bins out, we would have to drag the bins to the curbside the night before or first thing in the morning prior to their arrival. It’s a great system. 

For the much bigger trash, we would be required to get to the communal dumpster to dump them. It’s almost like a weekend hobby where cars are headed there to pile on the rubbish they have accumulated. In there, the trash would be sorted out in various different categories even more and everyone is expected to dump them where they should belong.

We have a lot of bins. Everyone does this.

I’m all for recycling and would happily do my part to care for the environment. In fact, I don’t mind the sorting at all and the kids have been trained to also sort out their trash accordingly. It’s a pretty good habit to instill in kids.

What I do have a problem with is the schedule as to when the bins get emptied out: Green Bin once every 2 weeks and the other 2 bins once a month. In the meantime, these rubbish bins would sit in our backyard.

Give it 3-4 days and the green bin would be harvesting maggots, worms and emit the foulest smell of rotten food you can ever imagine. It’s a torture to go anywhere near the bin to throw more organic stuff, especially after 1 week, let alone longer.

The dump-everything-else-bin would be just as bad. The size of the bin ensures that you can stuff a full-grown man in there as well which means that’s a shitload of rubbish in there! The flies would be circling and hover about the bins quite quickly. 

Tough luck if you forget or if you missed the collection time! You’d have to wait for the next cycle.

This has been a far cry from what we used to do in Bangkok where all the trash goes into the same bin AND we were able to clear out the trash from our homes every day at the end of the day. We then dump them into the rubbish chute and how the trash gets dump thereafter is forgotten.

Out of sight, out of mind. 

Not so much here. The rubbish is right in our faces and noses;  day in, day out until the time comes to get cleared out. Sorting out the trash and bringing the trash out is everyone’s responsibility. There’s a risk of your trash being rejected if they are not sorted out properly and no one is going to be doing the shit for you.

The idea around it is simple: Manage your waste. The more rubbish you accumulate, the harder it is for you, the smellier your home would be. 

This is all fuelled by the country’s policy to avoid creating a lot of waste. It is done in a very environmentally friendly way such that raw materials can be recovered from it, using it to generate energy through the incineration of residual waste and then only dump the leftovers.

As a result, less than 5% of all the Dutch waste ends up in landfills; a very impressive rate! It is no wonder that the Netherlands has been recognised as being one of the best countries in the world for waste management. 

I wish more countries would adopt this system and minimise the use landfills. It’s an education process and it’s great that we can now do more on our part for the environment as this was not possible before in Bangkok (even in Singapore!).

I just wish we do not have to wait for 2 weeks or a month for the bins to get emptied out because, with kids and 3 cats, it is impossible to not throw any more rubbish than necessary. But this is Holland. Jammer, maar helaas**


**Translated from Dutch to English as “Too bad, but unfortunate!”


Posted by:    |    4 Comment
  1. We are the same here in Scotland although the number of bins and service will vary on the council area that you live in. We have 4 bins, 1) A big bin for paper/ cardboard etc 2) A big bin for glass, plastics and tins, 3) a small bin for food ( you actually get two for food, a little bin or caddy about 9inch x 12 inches which you line with special food bags you are provided with and then once the bag is full you then put it into the other food bin which is about just over twice the height and kept outside along with the other bins) 4) then a general waste bin. Again if you put something in the wrong bin it won’t get emptied. They get emptied every two weeks on different days and staggered weeks, so every week you will have two bins picked up and then the other week the others will be picked up. We could also have got a bin for garden waste but we decided not to get one as we can easily get rid of our green waste and that would have been another bin to take out. I do believe that everyone should make some effort to recycle. Yes, it can be a pain when you need to wash out containers before placing in the bin and the bins take up a lot of space however we are lucky that we have a big backyard to keep the bins at and nobody sees them where they are but not everyone has the space. Our bins never get overly full being only my hubby and I but I can see if you had a bigger family they could easily fill well before they were going to be emptied. I think that you are right, its an education people need to be made aware of why they need to recycle and all areas need to make the system easy to do. There were rumour of fines being given for those that didn’t recycle or had too much general waste but I don’t think that will happen!

    • You’re being provided with special food bags? How cool! We have 2 for food too – a small one that gets transferred to the big ones which we do on a daily basis. What do you do with maggots in the big bin? Or would the special food bag you have take care of that? I don’t think we are allowed to put the organic waste in bags which is a bummer. So we breed maggots and flies as “pets”! :p

      You are right that it is a pain to wash them out and I can;t even bring myself to go near the bin! We;ve decided that it would be the husband’s duty. :p I cook, he clean! LOL. 2 weeks is still long even though you don’t have a big family. And because I cook a lot, that adds up too. ๐Ÿ™

      It is an education, isn’t it? I think it took them a long time to get people to get used to this practice; fines could help people get started. But you are right, it would probably be hard to impose such a rule!

      Thank you for a well-thought out reply, Kelly. Nice to meet you. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Wow, that’s impressive! Our garbage is picked up every Tuesday. We have to sort out the plastic, tin, glass, and paper. Otherwise, it all goes in the garbage. We do our own composting so most food waste goes in the green bin. But we have to take care of that ourselves.

  3. We have 3 bins here too, one for general rubbish, one for green waste and one for all recyclables. It took me a while to get used to the fact that cans and aluminum go in the same bin as glass, paper and cardboard. I still don’t really get it but at least it gets recycled… Back in Switzerland we had a rubbish bin for general rubbish. Recycling had to be taken to a special collecting facility, which was only open on certain days during certain hours. Everything was separate, paper, cardboard, aluminum, cans, glass (even white and colorful glass got separated) and so on. Green waste was a similar thing. You had to take it to a special place.


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