Deposits on cans leads to increase in littering in Netherlands

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According to information obtained by broadcaster NOS through a freedom of information request, the Dutch government did not foresee the significant litter issues that would arise from introducing deposits on cans.

Cities such as Amsterdam, Nijmegen, and Eindhoven have faced considerable problems with people breaking open bins and littering the streets while searching for cans to exchange for cash. An Amsterdam trial of bins with external racks, similar to those used in Denmark to prevent bin break-ins, has not yielded significant improvements, as noted in a city report last month.

NOS reported that the infrastructure ministry responsible for the deposit scheme focused primarily on collection points, the deposit amount, and reactions from various organizations, without adequately addressing potential litter issues. The ministry had expected that “deposit hunters” would be encouraged to collect discarded bottles and cans from the streets and return them.

The problem of bin vandalism was not anticipated. The NVRD, a union representing municipal cleaning services, stated that large cities would need two additional full-time staff members to manage the litter problem, attributing the issue to a lack of sufficient collection points.

Rob Buurman, director of the Fair Resource Foundation, told NOS that no one had anticipated these problems and suggested higher deposit amounts as a solution. He noted that enough people in the Netherlands live in poverty, making it worthwhile for them to scavenge through bins. He also mentioned that the country’s high population density and active street life contribute to more bottles and cans ending up in public bins.

The Netherlands introduced deposits on small plastic bottles in 2021, and cans were included in the scheme last year.

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