Roman rubbish high in plastic but incineration in NL is ‘best option’

Amsterdam residents no longer separate plastic waste. Photo
Amsterdam residents no longer separate plastic waste. Photo

The rubbish imported from Rome for incineration in Amsterdam is adding to the Dutch CO2 score because it contains too much plastic, but the move is still helping the environment, a report by independent think-tank CE Delft has shown.

The Amsterdam waste processing plant AEB has been burning a weekly 900 tonnes of Roman rubbish since the beginning of April, generating energy for homes and businesses in the capital.

Incineration has less impact on the environment than methane-producing landfill in Italy, including the transport of the rubbish by train from Rome, but separating out the plastic could halve CO2 emissions in Amsterdam, the researchers said.

However, Italy does not have a separating unit in place to remove the plastic at source while the recycling installation at the AEB is already running at full capacity.

The extra rubbish from Rome is not putting Dutch emissions over the CO2 limit, an AEB spokesman told the AD.

‘We are looking at the impact on the environment at an international level, and that allows us to burn the waste as efficiently as possible,’ he said.

Temporary agreement

The company emphasises that the arrangement, for which Italy pays a monthly €180,000, is a temporary one. Italy is building its own incinerator which is expected to be operational in three years’ time.

The AEB, located in the western harbour, has been processing waste from Britain for 10 years, and also has deals with Belgium, Germany, Iceland and France, the company told Dutch News.

Amsterdam city council stopped asking residents to separate plastic waste for recycling in 2021, arguing that the AEB could do it more accurately using its special equipment.

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