ADS Research Coupon: Commercial Waste in the City

15 April 2021

At the beginning of 2020, ADS awarded a €5,000 research coupon to the HvA and the City of Amsterdam to employ a research assistant to measure the impact of “Reinigingsrecht” on household waste facilities in Amsterdam.

Small companies and organisations in the City of Amsterdam disposing of their waste have two options to do so: contracting a private waste collector or making use of the household waste system. Many of these small companies and organisations choose the latter. In exchange for a municipal fixed fee (the “Reinigingsrecht”) they can make use of household waste facilities for a maximum of nine bags of garbage per week.

Impact of Reinigingsrecht on household and commercial waste systems

This research proposes a novel method of measuring the impact of the “Reinigingsrecht” on the household waste facilities in Amsterdam. This method includes the combination of many data sources to estimate the expected amount of residual waste. These data sources include population density, a mapping of each Reinigingsrecht contract, waste weightings and estimates of waste produced per company and per resident (Figure 1).

Combining this data, it is possible to estimate the expected amount of residual waste on multiple levels like district, neighbourhood, or per waste container. Comparing the expected values with the actual values, the distribution of under/overreporting can be drawn on a map to create a heatmap (Figure 2).

Results and Conclusions

The research found that containers that are utilized by companies contain more waste than expected. Containers that are not utilized by companies (residents only) contain less waste than expected. Amsterdam North has the greatest over-reporting of all districts.

While this research leans heavily on multiple assumptions, the method can be re-used when better data becomes available. This exploratory research paves the way for multiple follow-up studies, including:

  1. For this study, only the residual waste containers were considered. There are no containers in the city center of Amsterdam, where the waste is disposed of on the streets. Using different data sources, this methodology could also be applied to shed light on over- or underreporting in the city center, where the disposed waste has a greater impact on the local community and the environment. The Reinigingsrecht allows you to put your bags on the street to be collected.
  2. While this study determines where waste is more than expected, it leaves out why such hotspots exist. In future research, it could be interesting to quantify the effect of factors on the amount of waste collected, such as typology of companies surrounding the containers, e.g., number of employees, company sector, company surface area etc. This information could help formulate an even better method for estimating expected waste.

Currently, not every kilogram of residual waste is weighed, and it is not known how much is missing from the data. Therefore, the attached heatmap should be viewed knowing it depicts incomplete data.

In addition, it is proposed that the Cityof Amsterdam reorganizes how data is collected. When more complete data is collected, the method can be reused to gain better insight into the effects of the Reinigingsrecht on the household waste system.