On demand and flexible collection of waste and materials in the centre of Amsterdam Sustainability

The way we collect waste in the centre of Amsterdam – both from households and businesses – needs to change. Why?

  1. Public space in the centre of Amsterdam is used intensively and is vulnerable. The current state of some bridges and streets alongside canals means that they are closed to all traffic, or are not accessible to heavy vehicles – precisely the type of vehicles currently used to collect waste. To avoid the use of such vehicles on canal sides, a useful approach could be to transfer waste to boats on the canals.
  2. The current method of waste collection pollutes public space because residents and businesses are allowed to put rubbish bags and cardboard out on the street at certain times, typically during a long time slot. Many parts of the city centre are not suitable for underground containers in public areas, and residents and businesses have little space available indoors to store waste for a long time.
  3. In the centre, the composition of commercial and household waste is very similar. However, legislation does make a distinction between the two streams, which makes joint collection difficult. The result is that waste is collected by multiple trucks in the same street.
  4. It is one thing to make claims regarding sustainability, and another to take action. It would be possible to separate more waste more effectively if the method of waste disposal and collection was better designed and facilitated from the perspective of the end user.
  5. The method of payment for the services could be improved, with a greater focus on actual waste disposal behaviour and on the time and the extent to which the service is used. The incentive to produce less residual waste could be improved: from a municipal charge or contract to disposal on-demand and pay as you donate.

What is the City of Amsterdam doing about this issue?

The municipality is implementing various alternative collection forms in the city centre, from door-to-door collection by cargo bike, to on-demand textile collection by van (operated by Pantar), and residual waste transport on barges via the canals. In addition, in the Nine Streets area, the municipality is responsible for the overall management of household and commercial waste collection, and local business partnerships known as Business Investment Zones (BIZ) ensure that the waste problem is tackled jointly. Finally, waste collectors are working together on a ‘white label’ concept, in which one party collects on behalf of others, thus reducing waste collection journeys.

What are the universities doing?

Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS) and the University of Amsterdam (UvA) have established a vision document on raw materials and will now put the waste collection/processing out to tender. The AUAS is looking at logistics solutions which will be zero emission by 2030 and which take into account the impact on the environment in which collection takes place.

AUAS/UvA and the City of Amsterdam see an opportunity to work together on logistics solutions and to achieve synergy in the centre of Amsterdam in this context.

The assignment for startups:

Come up with a solution to

  • coordinate the collection of waste (either on demand, door to door, or otherwise) from households and companies in Amsterdam city centre (within the Stadhouderskade inner ring).

In order to ensure

  • ‘happy customers’ (residents, tourists, companies);
  • a high percentage of separated waste and as little residual waste as possible;
  • the least possible mobility in the street related to waste collection, using zero emission transport with a low impact on the public space;
  • traceability and transparency for all stakeholders.


  • At least for the test phase, compatibility with and accessibility by the current suppliers or current/future logistics solutions/partners of the clients.
  • Possibility to coordinate logistics and logistic partners.
  • Possibility to connect easily with existing interfaces from logistic and other partners (e.g. AUAS/UvA, City of Amsterdam, interface to communicate with residents).
  • Open model, not exclusively linked to one waste operator.

Ensure the solution is transparent for all users, including the possibility for ‘pay as you donate’ and ‘pay per pick up’, and a vision as to how to link the system to the processing of collected waste in the near future.


The startup should preferably

  • Guarantee a clear working method and means of reporting for the ‘happy customer’ and stakeholders involved, thus simplifying the many logistical solutions and administrative procedures.
  • Be aware of legal hurdles and create a system that works within the existing legal framework rather than changing it – with respect to the distinction between household and company waste. Your potential client can help you in this respect.

Issued by:

Afval en Grondstoffen & the Green Office, City of Amsterdam

University of Applied Sciences