Cleaner streets due to cargo bikes? Amsterdam experiments

Rubbish piling up in Amsterdam (archive photo) Photo:

Cargo bikes are Amsterdam’s latest weapon in its efforts to keep the city streets clean, the Parool reported at the weekend.

In one part of the city centre, waste collection workers are now ringing on doorbells to pick up garbage bags directly. The bags are then loaded onto a cargo bike and cycled off to a nearby barge on the Singel canal, where household waste is collected for shipment to the waste disposal plant in the docks.

It might seem like an expensive and labour-intensive way to deal with domestic waste, but, according to Centrum borough council, it is working well.

Households covered by the experiment can use an app to say when they would like their rubbish to be picked up and the waste collection service uses the same app to work out the best route. It is, the Parool said, a similar setup to a parcel delivery service.

Unlike most of Amsterdam, the city centre does not have underground containers where people can deposit their waste directly.

The experiment in the Negen Straatjes district in the city centre runs until 2025 and, officials say, is already leading to cleaner streets.

Last month the city said it would take a more proactive approach to reducing the amount of litter on the capital’s streets by installing more waste bins, taking on more staff and mounting a campaign to encourage locals and tourists to dispose of their waste properly.

The city has been hit by a surge of complaints about rubbish bags being dumped on the street and torn open by people hunting for cans and bottles to take back to shops for cash.

City rubbish collection trucks collect waste on 120 to 160 different routes a day and extra rounds have been introduced in areas where there is more rubbish, city official Zita Pels said.

This effort is paying off, she said. “The drop in the number of complaints about rubbish collection which started at the beginning of 2022 has continued into the first half of this year.”

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