There will be less plastic in garbage in 2023 but: “It could be much better”

Disposable cups, including plastic, can still be found everywhere on the streets, but bins are becoming increasingly scarce in the bins. Waste expert Dirk Groot has seen a change in waste in a year when measures such as the can deposit and plastic tax were introduced. “But we haven’t solved the problem yet,” he says.

Grip tongs and large basket. It is the permanent equipment of Groot, who describes himself as “The Traveler”. Disturbed by the large amount of garbage on the streets and in nature, he started collecting garbage ten years ago. A few years later, an IT professional by profession, he decided to record all the packaging he could think of, including the brand and exact location, because “the government reports did not match the information I was finding.”

For data expert Groot, this is now a full-time job. Their analysis of what waste goes where is used by Rijkswaterstaat, companies and municipalities.

Key result this year: The introduction of box deposits from 1 April has clearly worked. “He worked very quickly. After one quarter, the number of doses had already decreased by 55 percent, and after six months this had dropped to 75 percent,” says Groot.

But it still could be better. Because he finds many boxes that have been crushed and therefore fall on the street. “They were paid a deposit. They are very well recyclable. But they’re not taking him anywhere.”

“That’s a shame,” Groot says. Until April 1, before the canning deposit was introduced, flat bottles could be easily delivered to the supermarket counter and customers could easily get their deposit back. “If we do this again, collection rates will increase and they will be collected off the streets.”

“Wrong buttons”

These collection rates are still very low. Since January 1, the waste fund called “Verpact” is responsible for collection on behalf of companies. In August, it was announced that the plastic bottle collection rate would remain at 68 percent in 2022 instead of the legally required 90 percent.

In a recovery plan, the fund says it will only be able to meet regulatory requirements in 2026, first by providing more deposit machines and manual collection points.

According to Groot, what Verpact is pushing are the “wrong buttons.” “More collection points are a good thing. However, this plan is not enough to combat waste.”

It would help much more quickly if collection points started accepting plain bottles and cans again, he says. “Companies are also obliged to ensure that labels remain on returnable bottles. Some bottles are now going out quickly, meaning they cannot be returned and will often be thrown away. “This needs to be implemented.”

It would also be helpful if plastic bottles for juice, dairy and wine were no longer exempt from deposit requirements, he says. “I’ve seen half of these since some major supermarkets started taking voluntary deposits on juice bottles. “The number of milk bottles has actually doubled.” He is also seeing an increasing number of plastic wine bottles being used more frequently by producers.

Additionally, precautions should be taken against “avoidance movements”. “When it comes to water and soda, you can see companies switching from plastic bottles to beverage cartons that don’t require a deposit. That’s why we find them more and more in garbage. This needs to be put aside.”

It also supports increasing deposits. “There are people who think 15 cents isn’t enough to give away a bottle,” Groot replies. “It must really hurt to throw a bottle like that out on the street.”

Disposable containers and cups

Another drastic measure is the surcharge for takeaway and delivery on single-use plastic containers and cups from July 1. Groot says this works well against plastic containers. “When it was introduced I could hardly find any plastic chip and croquet containers anymore. “Many companies had already switched to cardboard in anticipation of the tax.”

This is different with disposable cups, which require a plastic layer to prevent leakage. Since their introduction, they’ve become more trashed, not less. “People are thrown away because they can’t get back the extra money they paid.”

It would make a difference if more offices use reusable cups instead of disposable cups. This will be required by law from January 1, but like the plastic surcharge, it will not apply for now.

“Currently half of the disposable cups I find do not have a name or brand on them. I encounter them in offices, construction sites, industrial areas and municipal buildings. They’re just office mugs.

Source: NOS