The Dutch and Recycling! Creating something beautiful out of trash

The Dutch and recycling is an endless love affair that does nothing but prosper with time. And the Zero Waste Lab initiative is here to make sure that it stays this way.

The Dutch and Recycling: Why are people in the Netherlands so dedicated to recycling?

If you live in the Netherlands, you should have noticed by now that the Dutch come up with all kinds of ways to recycle. This country is wholeheartedly dedicated to using old materials, in order to create something new and beautiful. However, that does not seem to be the case everywhere in the Netherlands.

According to reports, The Netherlands’ two largest cities – Amsterdam and Rotterdam, have recycling rates that are far lower that the rest of the country. That is why these two Dutch cities have pledged to become circular economies, by reusing waste to create new materials. Amsterdam has plans to achieve this by 2050 and Rotterdam by 2030.

The Dutch and Recycling
Garbage at Rotterdam harbor. Photo: Flickr/ P K

According to studies, the average person in the Netherlands produces 550 kg (1,213 lb) of waste each year, and over half of that is recycled. However, in Amsterdam where most residents live in apartments with no outdoor space, only 27% of waste is recycled. This is why the municipality hopes to boost that percentage to 65% by 2020. This is where Zero Waste Lab comes in to save the day!

The Dutch and Recycling: Zero Waste Lab

Zero Waste Lab is a new initiative aiming to enlighten people on the topic of urban waste in Dutch cities. The company teaches people that even trash can be turned into something useful and beautiful. All you have to do is go and donate your old stuff to Zero Waste Lab. By giving them your old fabric, paper and plastic, you not only support their project, but also receive discount tokens for local shops and market stalls.

What are those projects? Well, for example your old fabric is sent to Firma Koos. It is a local social enterprise that hires people struggling to find work and uses denim to make cushions and bags.

Other items such as electronic cables, fabric and plastic bottles are sent to children’s arts and crafts workshops. Zero Waste Lab also sends some of the waste to libraries that host workshops for children called “maker spaces”. There, children learn how to create something artistic out of trash. The goal of these maker spaces is to teach children from a young age the importance of recycling and how old materials may come in use.

The Dutch and Recyling
Photo: Wikipedia/JulieN2212

According to Zero Waste Lab, the goal of the initiative is not only to encourage people to recycle, but also to create a community of people who care about local projects. Since it started in 2016, 30 local businesses and 1,100 households have joined the project.

Are you going to donate some of your old stuff to Zero Waste Lab? How do you feel about the Dutch and recycling? Let us know in the comments below!

Veronika Licheva
Veronika Licheva
Living the short girl life in the land of giants. Veronika is a content creator who takes great interest in video, photography, and journalism. Her mission in The Netherlands is to build a vibrant and exciting career, while simultaneously petting as many dogs as possible.


  1. Let’s do something about making Dutch cigarette smokers aware that cigarette butts are toxic and polluting the environment. According to a recent article: “The core of most cigarette filters, the part that looks like white cotton, is actually a form of plastic called cellulose acetate. By itself, cellulose acetate is very slow to degrade in our environment. Depending on the conditions of the area the cigarette butt is discarded in, it can take 18 months to 10 years for a cigarette filter to decompose. Used cigarette filters are full of toxins, which can leach into the ground and waterways, damaging living organisms that come into contact with them. Most filters are discarded with bits of tobacco still attached to them as well, further polluting our environment with nicotine, which is poisonous.”
    For a country that constantly talks about the milieu, it’s shameful that nothing is being done about this.
    Let’s make the Netherlands Butt Free!

  2. I think this is a great topic you are referring to. I never heard before how toxic the butts from the cigarettes are. Besides pollution, passive smokers illness, million dollars industry to the huge corporations, this industry is one of the most cruel industry when it comes to testing the cigarettes, it usually happens to the animals that are pushed in the cigarettes smoke chambers for hours to test how much toxicities is tolerant before the animals are subjected to the illness in order to allow the human to smoke just enough before their lungs and the bloodstream become intoxicated and eventually receive cancer. In many countries it happens that the animals are stolen from the streets and transported to other countries where testing on animals is obligatory like China. There are many other instances as well. The cigarettes industry has to be exposed and destroyed.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related posts

Latest posts

Mandatory sustainability courses, vegetarian meals, and reduced travel: Dutch university tackles climate change

Erasmus University in Rotterdam (EUR) is making huge changes for staff and students in an effort to reduce its climate footprint.  The university has a...

So Dutch: International bike-smuggling ring squashed, leaders get 5 years

Proving that the Netherlands doesn't monkey around when it comes to theft of their beloved fietsen (bikes), leaders of an international bike-smuggling ring now...

Good boys: Dutch dogs and rescue team sent to Turkey to find survivors

The Dutch Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team has arrived in Turkey to help recover victims of the Kahramanmaras earthquake, which hit Turkey and...

It's happening

Upcoming events

The latest Dutch news.
In your inbox.