Etten-Leur: Frontrunner in waste separation

8 underground compactors

In 2010, Etten-Leur was one of the first towns where we installed our underground compactor.

There are currently 8 underground compactors in the town. Etten-Leur is the frontrunner when it comes to achieving the national target of at least 75% waste separation and a maximum of 100 kg residual waste per resident by 2020.

Etten-Leur has almost 43,000 residents. 32,000 of these live in moderately to intensely urbanised areas. We interviewed Wil Welvaarts of the municipality of Etten-Leur.

How are waste collections organised in Etten-Leur?
“In Etten-Leur we work with waste recycling stations for both residual and plastic waste. Residents can go to any one of eight different locations in the municipality. Furthermore, we started household collections of plastic waste in 2012, collecting bags once every two weeks. It was an effective combination, since both options were well used: overall collections of waste in 2015 amounted to 770 tonnes, spread equally over the recycling centres and household collections.”

When it comes to waste separation, Etten-Leur returns the best figures nationwide
“We can put that success down to the fact we are a municipality that uses differentiated rates. We register how much residual waste is collected per household. The lower the amount of residual waste collected from a household, the less the refuse collection charge. As a municipality our aim was to get the message explicitly across to residents informing them via letters and emails. The campaign proved successful, because waste is being separated effectively: in 2015 we had managed to reduce residual waste volumes per resident to 118 kilos.”

“Underground compactors are an incentive
to waste separation”

Why did you opt for underground compaction containers in 2010?
“Whereas we still had above-ground containers for bottles and clothes in 2008, the council made a proposal to change to an underground system of waste collection. It was also the time when plastic waste collection was becoming more prevalent as a result of which (standard) underground containers for its collection began to take off. In the meantime, residents in Etten-Leur were getting used to the idea of using waste containers so they started to fill more quickly. In our quest for a solution to this growing problem we were pointed in the direction of underground compactors.”

Wil Welvaarts of the municipality of Etten-Leur.

“Both larger and smaller amounts of waste can be compacted immediately”


Do underground containers contribute to the concept of waste separation?
“Absolutely. Conventional containers also have to be emptied. When they are full, people tend to dump waste next to them. With underground compactors we incentivise them to separate their waste.” All waste – larger and smaller volumes – can be compacted immediately. That also means fewer collections by refuse trucks and residents don’t have to save small amounts of waste for days at a time.”

How can it be improved upon?
“As I already said, residents in Etten-Leur are already good at separating their waste and we are delighted with that. Perhaps we can encourage better waste separation through financial incentives. It goes without saying we want to keep our position in the national rankings!”