One of the stickers placed on the organic waste bins, Source: City of Aachen

Aachen waste company will not empty incorrectly filled organic bins in a bid to re-educate residents

Aachen waste company will not empty incorrectly filled organic bins in a bid to re-educate residents

Its employees leave stickers on the containers indicating what can go in and what cannot

It may sound like an April’s Fool joke, but it certainly isn't. The Aachen municipal waste management company announced that starting this month, its employees will refuse to empty organic waste bins found to contain the wrong trash items inside them.

It turns out that a dizzying more than 90% of organic waste deposited into the containers has not been correctly sorted beforehand. This ends up costing more money and effort for the company to then dispose of that waste at the composting plant.

The city pays 40 euros per ton for well-sorted organic waste and 100 euros more for poorly sorted organic waste. Because separating organic waste in Aachen doesn't work particularly well, the city has up to half a million euros in additional costs per year. 

That’s why the municipal authorities have decided to initiate a “tough love” campaign to properly educate the residents about organic waste rules by leaving the bins as they are and letting them fill up.

Items that do not belong in the organic waste bin

This is the second, and arguably more drastic phase, of the awareness-raising campaign. The first one, which began at the start of the year, had the waste management employees leave stickers on the bins indicating what items can and cannot go inside.

In addition, the company had sent out some 4,000 letters to residents since the start of the year announcing that come April, the organic waste bins will not be emptied out if found to be incorrectly filled. The grace period is now over, so those who break the rules have three options to choose from:

  • Re-sort the waste in the bin before the next call of the waste management crew;
  • Empty the bin and dispose of it as residual waste, or
  • Request and pay for a special emptying session.

The Aachen waste management company is hopeful that this will help residents adapt and change their waste disposal behaviour after being faced with inconvenience. The most common, and incorrect, items that are regularly deposited in the organic waste bins have been plastic bags, diapers and milk cartons.



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