An electric boat transporting waste, Source: City of Amsterdam

Amsterdam’s waste goes on a boat journey

Amsterdam’s waste goes on a boat journey

The aim is to avoid traffic and to keep the air clean

Amsterdam will be testing the transportation of waste by boat through its well-developed system of canals, the municipality informed on its website in mid-March. The alternative waste hauling will take place as part of a six-month-long trial, in part of the Red Lights and Nieuwmarkt districts.

The tests have a twofold purpose: to reduce the amount of freight traffic on the weak quays and bridges and to reduce the quantity of exhaust gases from trash trucks.

Adapting waste collection to the needs of each district

Between 15 March and 1 October 2021, one might witness an unusual sight in some of the oldest parts of Amsterdam: boats full of bags of trash. And while this might seem far from environmentally friendly to many, the idea is quite the opposite, namely – to prevent air pollution and city traffic, while serving the waste management needs of the district in the best way possible.

So, if you see such a boat, you should know that it is electric and that the bags of waste are on their way to being transported to the waste processing facility.

The districts were selected for the test due to their specificity, namely – the impossibility to place underground containers, the narrow streets, and the often too weak quays which have trouble standing the weight of the refuse trucks. Willing to explore alternatives for the waste collection in these areas, Amsterdam will be testing different mechanisms, including transportation by boat.

During the trial, not much will change for the residents whose homes are included in the trial. They can simply put their waste outside as they are used to.

The waste boats travel every Monday and Thursday morning removal services collect the garbage. In the streets where the waste boats are located, waste can be thrown directly into the boats from the quay, while in the surrounding streets, carts will drive to collect the garbage bags.

In streets where there is usually a lot of garbage, a small garbage truck compresses the waste. Once boats are full, they are covered with hatches and nets before they depart safely.

In six months, after the end of the trial, city authorities, together with residents, will decide on whether the method should be expanded to other areas or not.

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