Waste minimization has always been an important goal for cities and countries. Humans produce waste every single day and solutions have been put into practice to dispose of it efficiently and securely. However, the amount of waste created by humans on a daily basis is so considerable that it even puts the environment at risk. You might ask yourself:
Those questions are legitimate, though the most important question is: What happens to my trash after it is transported to those gathering places? If you are asking yourself those questions, you’d be surprised to hear that a third of the plastic produced in 2015 was used for packaging and that more than half the plastic ever produced has ended up in the ocean. Waste is a big problem in the fight against climate change, which is why recycling is so important. It helps fight against water pollution, reduces CO2 emissions in the atmosphere, prevents deforestation and air pollution. You can help combat climate change by knowing what and how to recycle in Maastricht! This would also help the city to reach their plan to become zero-waste in 2030, which means that by that time every resident of Maastricht will separate all of their waste so it can be recycled. You will find more information on waste’s global impact and the way to manage yours properly in this complete sustainability guide on waste!
The global impact of waste
Mismanaged waste has an undeniable environmental impact. The EU exports quantities of waste outside of its borders, including some types of waste which seriously damage not only the environment but also the workers’ health in the receiving countries. The most exported waste is plastic, e-waste (electronics) and clothing. For more information on clothing waste just check out our guide on sustainability in retail! Concerning plastic and e-waste, did you know that:
How is that possible?
In the Netherlands plastics are collected in order to be recycled however, because of the recent increase in plastic use, the Netherlands cannot recycle all of it. So far, the sole solution for this issue was to export plastic waste. In recent years, more and more plastic waste has been sent to countries outside the EU like Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam, where prices are much lower. The receiving countries do not always have the right recycling plants, which can lead to plastic waste piling up ten feet high, or being incinerated in open air, creating serious health hazards for the people living and working in and around the landfill. Additionally, the incinerated plastics release toxic smoke causing respiratory problems, the released harmful chemicals have contaminated the local food chain increasing the risks of cancer, diabetes, and immune system damage. One can thus say that our trash mismanagement puts other lives at risk!!!
In the Netherlands there are officially 44 million kilograms of e-waste exported for reuse. However, according to Interpol most of this waste is often no longer functional. The problem of e-waste lies in illegal exportation to Asian and African countries. An estimated 352,475 metric tons of e-waste are exported from EU countries to developing countries every year. In such countries, a lot of the dismantling work is done by hand. This is a very dangerous process since the recycled materials are made accessible through burning and acid baths. Child labor is too common, and workers usually work for very long hours, in unsafe conditions and for very low wages. If you want to learn more about the consequences of e-waste you can watch the documentary The E-waste Tragedy.
What can you do about all this ?
Try to REDUCE your plastic usage
REPAIR or RESELL your electronics
If they cannot be saved anymore LOOK UP organizations which show you how they will reuse your old electronics.
CONSIDER whether you truly need the new electronic device
READ READ READ (or watch): keep documenting yourself on the issue!
Are you a Waste Expert?
- Beer cans
- Plastic bags
- Unclean and/or unwashed food cans
- Paint cans
- Plastic bottles
- Beer cans, plastic bags, and plastic bottles: YES
- Unclean/unwashed food cans: YES but ONLY if they are EMPTY and CLEAN)
- Styrofoam: NO (residual trash bag)
- Paint cans: NO (considered toxic waste)
- Broken light bulbs
- Any glass packaging with the recycling logo
- Any cream pots made of transparent glass
- Broken light bulbs: NO (depending on light bulb, either residual trash bags or special containers found in supermarkets)
- Porcelain: NO (residual trash bags)
- Creampots and any glass containers with recycling logo: YES
- Cut flowers
- Compostable plastic
- Ash (from fireplace or ashtrays)
- Pet hair
- Cat litter
- Cut flowers, compostable plastic, and corks: YES
- Ash, pet hair, and cat litter: NO (residual trash bags)
Would you like to know more about the ecological impact of your personal daily consumption ? Take an online test to calculate your carbon footprint!
What goes where?
Residual waste refers to any kind of waste that cannot be separated and must be placed in a residual bag. These bags are the official pink and white municipality trash bags. They are collected once a week by the municipality. Download the MilieuApp for free to see the collection date for your neighborhood. The collection is done either in the evening or early the next morning so you can put out your trash bag at 7 p.m on the correct date.
You can find these special trash bags at:
– Albert Heijn
– Jan Linders
Beware: if you put out any other kind of trash bags on the street, or if you take it out too early you may receive a fine!!
Milieuperrons (Recycling points)
Any waste which is not residual nor organic must be disposed of in the Milieu Perrons. These are underground containers in which you can dispose of the waste that can be separated and recycled.
There are 4 kinds of containers:
Witglas (transparent glass)
Bondglas (colored glass)
Papier Karton (paper and cardboard)
PMD (Plastic -Aluminium-Drinking packaging)
Now, how can we be sure of what to recycle and what to put in which container?
As it can be quite confusing, we established a specified list for you!
Tip: Download the MilieuApp to see where the closest Milieuperron is to you!
What CAN go in the PMD container?
● Drinking cardboard packages (milk, juice bottles)
● Packaging made of thin metal (spray cans (whipped cream, deodorant),food cans, aluminium food trays)
● All types of plastic packagings (e.g. pasta bag, all types of bottles, yoghurt cups, fruit and vegetable containers, fish, meat and cheese packages)
● Plastic bags
● Aluminum foil
→ always make sure that your packaging waste is empty and clean !
What CANNOT go in the PMD container?
● Not emptied packagings
● Chemical waste (mercury in batteries)
● Styrofoam (found a lot in takeout packaging)
● Blister packs of pills and chewing gum made with aluminum foil (those without aluminium can go in the PMD trash)
● Bags with silver foil on the inside (chips bags)
● Biodegradable plastic (this goes in the green trash)
● Paint cans and buckets
● All other household goods which are not made of plastic !
What CAN go in the glass container?
● Any packing with the recycling logo
● Any drinking glass containers (bottles, glasses,…)
● Cosmetic glass containers (cream pot, perfume, empty medicine bottles)
→ make sure to put the right color of glass in the right containers!
What CANNOT go in the glass container?
● Broken light bulbs
● Neon lights
● Vases and/or flowerpots
● Broken window glass
● Crystal glass
● Oven-safe glass (baking trays)
You can pretty much put any kind of paper/cardboard into the cardboard container.
HOWEVER: make sure there is ONLY paper or cardboard. That means removing the plastic foil around magazines or plastic that may bind a notebook. Also make sure that the cardboard is clean: no grease from pizza boxes for example (these may go into the residual waste. Simply cut out the part of the box with grease on it and put the rest to be recycled)
→ For very voluminous cardboard, there are special days that you can put it on the street and it will be collected. It is usually during the first trash collection day of the month. Check out the cardboard collection date in your neighborhood on the MilieuApp!
What CAN go in the green trash?
● Peels and remains of food (picture of half-eaten apple, potato peels, egg
shelves, nutshells, tea bags)
● Cut flowers
● Biodegradable plastic (label)
What CANNOT go in the green trash?
● Ashtray remains (cigarette buds and ash)
● Pet remains(like cat litter or hair but how to represent this in a picture…?)
● Vacuum cleaner bag
● Chemical waste
● Garden soil
● Textile and leather
● And anythings that is not organic
→ Beware ! : DO NOT put any kind of organic waste in the residual trash bag. Everything organic MUST go into the Green trash.
The rest of what you cannot put in the recycling bins or residual trash bags (toxic waste, bulky items) must be disposed of in the Milieuparks. Milieuparks (literally environmental parks) are waste drop-offs or recycling centers. Residents of Maastricht can drop off different kinds of waste to the 3 milieuparksof the Maastricht commune :
Milieupark Beatrixhaven at Fregatweg 32, 6222 NZ
○ Open from 10.00 to 18.00
○ Closed on Thursday and Sunday
Milieupark Het Rondeel at Het Rondeel 24, 6219 PG
○ Open from 10.00 to 18.00
○ Closed on Sunday
Milieupark Randwyck at Watermolen 10, 6229 PM
○ Open from 10.00 to 18.00
○ Closed on Wednesday and Sunday
Beware! : in order to have access to those milieuparks, you MUST have a valid Milieupas (waste card) and proof of identity.
– You can register for a Milieupas at the municipality
– If you lost your Milieupas, you can ask for a new one here www.besteuitafval.nl .
You will also have to pay a certain amount of money according to how much you throw away → Payments are only possible with a debit card.
Now, what can I bring to a Milieupark?
Damaged/unusable bulky items
Household bulky items are items that do not fit in a trash bag, cannot be reused such as a broken chair, couch, or rug or generally anything that does not go in either of the containers we described on the last pages. These items CANNOT be put in a residual trash bag and must be taken to a Milieupark so that they do not damage the waste chain and the environment.
There are 2 ways that you can dispose of these items:
● Bring them yourself to one of the environmental parks. You will have to pay a fixed price as mentioned earlier
● You can have them collected by the municipal waste collection. For this, you must fill in an online form with your DigiD. If you don’t have a DigiD, you can call the GemeenteLoket. In order for your bulky items to be collected, you must take into account certain conditions:
○ There is a maximum of 2m3 of bulky items
○ Bulky items can only be collected on Wednesday for residents of the Maastricht commune
○ The collection meeting point will be given 2 weeks after the subscription
○ You must be present during the collection
○ A discount rate applies to senior (+65) and physically disabled citizens
→ If your items are still usable, bring them to a Kringloopwinkel (thrift shop) ! This way you will give your usable item a new life.
○ Smoke detectors
○ Fluorescent tube
○ Light bulbs, low energy light bulbs*
○ Lamp oil
○ Frying oil
○ Pesticide/ insecticide
* Can also be brought to supermarkets with dedicated disposal areas
○ Medicine (pills)
○ Injection needles
○ Thermometers (mercury)
○ Paint, varnish, wood preservatives
○ All products used for dyeing (turpentine, thinner, brush cleaner,
○ Mercury switches
○ Photo developers
○ Nitric acid
○ Sulfuric acid
○ Hydrochloric acid