Preventing the build-up of waste around Amsterdam’s temporary canal wall supports Sustainability

The City of Amsterdam’s Bridges and Canal Walls Programme (Programma Bruggen en Kademuren) sets out the measures needed to ensure the city remains safe, accessible and liveable. In recent years, many of the bridges and canal walls in the city centre were found to be suffering from structural defects. Usually within a few weeks of such a discovery, temporary management measures are put in place – a safety structure that acts as a structural reinforcement (see attachment 1). This is typically a sheet pile wall placed against the canal wall. This ensures the wall remains stable and the street alongside the canal can remain fully in use until the wall is eventually replaced.


Although these temporary supports makes the city’s bridges and canal walls safer and keeps the area accessible, a side effect has emerged: waste quickly accumulates around the reinforcement structures. As the water flows through the canal, floating litter gathers at points where the water is still and there are obstacles. The build-up of waste has a negative environmental, ecological and aesthetic impact on the surrounding area.


Overdue maintenance work, a better understanding of the inadequate conditions of the bridges and canal walls, and a long lead time for replacement projects mean that more safety structures will be installed in Amsterdam’s canals in the coming years.


The construction work for the safety structures is conducted within Amsterdam’s Bridges and Canal Walls Programme. The focus of the request to startups is primarily societal. The aim is to improve the quality of life for residents and businesses in the areas surrounding the support structures by preventing any hindrance from waste accumulating in the canal. The Programme hopes that a solution to this problem will also generate more positive support for safety structures in the surrounding area, indirectly shortening the lead times for their installation.


The assignment for startups:

Develop and implement an effective method to prevent waste accumulating in around the safety structures supporting the canal walls, and to dispose of any waste at an appropriate waste collection point. The City of Amsterdam’s aim is to enhance the appearance and improve the quality of life in areas where temporary structural reinforcements are supporting bridges and canal walls.



  • Easy to integrate: The solution must be quickly and easily integrated with existing safety structures without having any negative effects on the function of the structure.
  • Scalable: It must be a local, physical solution that can be applied at multiple locations in the city.
  • Effective: There must be a measurable effect in reducing waste in the canal around the safety structure.
  • Maintenance-friendly: Maintenance costs/activities must be as low as possible, and the solution must be easily accessible for any maintenance activities.
  • Public support in the area: The solution must have a positive impact on the surrounding area, and thus increase public support for the installation of the safety structure.


Issued by:

Ingenieursbureau, City of Amsterdam