Train travellers have the option of throwing their waste in separate bins at Dutch train stations, but apparently it all gets pick up together in the end at most stations, including Amsterdam Central Station.
The only notable exception is Rotterdam Central Station where they make extra efforts to pick up the rubbish in several rounds, something that apparently cannot be done in Amsterdam due to having some 250,000 travellers passing through the station. I don’t quite understand that excuse: if it wasn’t possible to start off with, deceiving the public is not the best PR.
Berlin’s train station, which, without checking must get the same if not more travellers than Amsterdam does, manages to separate its garbage into four categories: waste, paper, packaging and glass, and, I’m guessing they make sure it’s not all thrown together in the end. My recent travels to Berlin as well as Frankfurt, Heidelberg, Mannheim, Karlsruhe, Munich and a few other Germany cities showed me that it can be done, so why is Dutch Railways failing so hard?
The separation and reduction of waste at stations, on trains and in retail (shops) are part of the Green Deal agreement between the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment and NS [Dutch Railways]. The goal of this agreement is to reduce the waste produced by passengers by 25% and to separate 75% of waste on collection so that it can be recycled by 2020.
Dutch Railways’ excuse is that it costs too much money to pick it up separately and in practice, it doesn’t really work. I still want to know why other European countries can do it and I also want to know how they plan to achieve their goals the way they are going.
A quick Google search with ‘Netherlands’ and ‘food waste’ (albeit in Dutch) produces all kinds of links from the past few years, summed up as ‘it’s terrible that we waste so much food, we’re going to do something about it’ when the reality today is that the Netherlands is still number one in Europe when it comes to wasting food.
Despite goals that were set between 2009 and 2015, one third of all food gets thrown out in the Netherlands, as no progress whatsoever has been made since then to curb this bad behaviour. Reasons include the government saying that the goals they set back in 2015 of 20 percent less waste was not realistic and that consumers buy too much, get rid of it on the expiration date unnecessarily and don’t keep food in the right place. As well, supermarkets are guilty of putting unnecessary expiration dates on fruits and vegetables, while growers throw out perfectly good produce instead of transforming it into other products.
The Deltapark Neeltje Jans, a Dutch theme park near the Delta Works, is currently hosting the Healthy Seas Fashion Exhibition, featuring fashion created by Greek students from waste found in the sea.
The exhibition tells the “journey from waste to wear, the problem of ghost nets, recycling, circular economy and see what fashion design students created from the recycled fishing nets”.
The Netherlands is home to the Healthy Seas organisation, and the combination of the Neeltje Jans and Delta Works gives the exhibition an additional dimension, according to them, as they also claim that 10 percent of the waste found in water is fish nets, which explains the fish net fashion.
Find out more about how it all came about (in Greek with English subtitles):
Three scientists of the Meat the Mushroom company are developing a meat replacement food product using prawn waste at their container venue in the up and coming Amsterdam North district.
They explain that prawn waste is normally processed into animal feed or spread on fields. “Ninety percent of all Dutch shrimp is peeled in Morocco. If you buy fresh prawns, you can assume that they are about two months old. They are caught in the North Sea, cooked on the boat, shipped to Morocco, peeled and placed in preservative, and shipped back to the Netherlands again. […] Some 70 percent of the weight of a shrimp is not even edible. A kilo of prawns leaves 700 grams of waste.
Working together with a shrimp processor in the small Groningen village of Leens that peels the prawns using a machine, Meat the Mushroom have come up with this basic recipe: prawn waste + grain + king oyster mushroom = ‘cheese’. The result apparently looks just like the French Mont d’Or or Camembert cheese.
The product is obviously not suited for vegetarians or vegans, but it is made from discarded bits, making it a decent alternative to meat and very creative. The picture depicts shiitake mushrooms, which the scientists also grow.
Eindhoven-based inventor and designer Dave Hakkens is a man of ideas and his latest idea, a mobile phone of which you can swap out parts when they break down or get too old, is getting a lot of attention on the Internet.
The idea behind Phonebloks is to commoditize the hardware behind the mobile phone in such a way that not manufacturers but consumers get to swap out parts—a sort of Lego for mobile phones. There would have to be a ‘Blok-store’ where you could order the parts you want (at a suitable mark-up of course) all the while feeling good about yourself for not throwing out your entire mobile phone when you get tired of parts of it.
Hakkens seems to have learned from a previous project, a power strip called Plugbook, which he ran on Kickstarter but which failed to reach its target. In order to show your interest in Phonebloks you do not have to pledge your own money. Instead you voice your support via Thunderclap in the hope that manufacturers and investors will sit up and take notice.
(Via my Facebook page where people were ‘liking’ the damn thing by the boatloads. Illustration: crop from Dave Hakkens’ video.)
Dutch airline KLM is planning to use the leftovers of 50,000 airplane meals to produce electricity. The idea is to convert waste (refuse and food) into oil and then burn in a gas turbine at a new power station on Schiphol Airport grounds. A feasability study is currently being done and a decision will be made at the end of September.
With an investment of less than EUR 10 mln, the power station could process 20 tonnes of waste a day, which is enough to handle the leftover food. The turbine would then be able of providing electricity for 4,000 homes.
There is a petition going around that basically pleads for having the right to say no to the paper version of the phone book and the yellow pages (Gouden Gids). It’s not about taking it away from the elderly that do not bother with computers or people who actually use a paper copy, it’s about not so many of these guides ending up in the bin. Thousands and thousands do and these folks think it’s time to put a stop to it. This picture is actually of my own version waiting to be recycled yet again this year.