Plastic Recycling Against All Odds!

If you have ever wondered why Amsterdam doesn't have plastic recycling bins alongside our paper, plastic and waste bins, you are not alone. We wondered the same thing, so we did some checking...

Amsterdam is pretty good when it comes to recycling most rubbish, but when it comes to plastic, we didn't really separate it from our normal household garbage, until now. You are probably used to dividing your waste into paper, glass and the rest. If you are a lucky city garden owner, you may also be used to composting your organic waste. If you have moved to Amsterdam recently, you may find it awkward to throw all your plastics away with your normal garbage, but what else can you do?

We are pleased to tell you that starting in 2010, the gemeente [City Council] finally began introducing proper containers for recycling plastic!

They are not always easy to find, so check the plastic recycling list to find the orange containers close to you. The organization responsible for promoting plastic recycling is Plastic Heroes. See their website for a short video about how plastic is recycled.

image Afval Amsterdam


Taking garbage into your own hands!

Have you ever considered how much of your garbage consists of plastic alone? In times when even an avocado, bananas, apples and even fresh herbs come wrapped in plastic or in a container, we end up producing way more plastic than necessary. Some of our InLivin’ team members were feeling really bad about all this clean plastic being chucked away together with other waste, so we decided to put Amsterdam plastic recycling to a test.

After two weeks of separating, we suddenly had enormous bags filled with various plastics. Surprisingly, most of this waste came from packaging from fruits and vegetables! Because we love to eat healthy, the vast majority of our waste consisted of organic waste and plastic! How ironic! We try to eat well to keep our bodies healthy, but we end up creating more unnecessary waste at the same time…

One step to take was to change the place we buy our fruits and veg. We decided to not buy anymore fruit and veg at the local supermarket. For some reason, they seem to package items that do not really require plastic wrapping in the first place! Whether if this is done to make you buy more pieces at once, or under the excuse of having the produce arrive without damage, we decided we want no part of it anymore! Instead, there are many other options, like buying straight from your local market, where you can place your purchase straight into your reusable bag. Similarly, you can visit your local organic store, where produce is either offered without packaging, or delivered in biodegradable / compostable plastic. You will recognize it by the loud "plasticy" sound it makes.

Instead of contributing to growing our world’s landfills, do your part and help turn plastic packaging into new plastic items like car dashboards, plastic toys and industrial containers. Or, even better, make a conscious choice of buying products without a plastic cover, when possible.


Which plastics can you recycle? 



Water and soft drink bottles, totes, packaging from various clothing and food products (pasta, rice, veg/fruit, candy, etc.), plastic wrapping from promotional catalogs, folders and flyers; yoghurt containers, shampoo and cosmetic product bottles.

Our conclusion: recycle any plastics that come from food products, or products used for body care.




Styrofoam trays, packaging from toxic products (glues and chemical products), chips packaging (made from mixed materials – you can recognize it by the silver inside), medication strips (also mixed materials), toys, carton boxes from milk and beverages.

Our conclusion: if it is "spongy" plastic, or its made of mixed materials, it can’t be recycled!


Make sure that the plastic you recycle is clean, without food or liquid rests. Empty the bottles and give them a quick rinse before you deposit them in the container, and remove any cardboard or paper elements.

If you would like to learn more about this topic, visit Plastic Heroes or call the Amsterdam city information line: 14020.

If you have had trouble finding these containers, or have an interesting story to share regarding recycling of plastic, we are looking forward to your comments below. Check the plastic recycling list to find the orange containers close to you.