Leiden: up to six times more waste

14 underground compactors

At the moment there are fourteen underground compactors in Leiden, thirteen for the collection of plastic and one for residual waste. Two more underground compactors were installed in the course of 2016.

Leiden has a population of 117,000. Almost all the city’s residents live in heavily urbanised neighbourhoods. We discussed the city’s waste policy and the role of underground compactors with Ralph Veelenturf of the municipality’s waste collection department.

What’s the current position with respect to waste collection in Leiden?

“Our aim is to encourage our residents to separate their waste as much as possible. For that reason we’ve started a scheme to collect plastic waste. We decided against household collections since a heavily urbanised city like Leiden is not properly geared up to this. Instead residents can take their separated plastic waste to one of fifteen waste recycling points in the city.”

“Our experience is that residents are happy to separate their waste.”


Is adequate use made of the waste recycling points?

“Yes, most definitely. “Our experience is that residents are happy to separate their waste.” That’s the good news, but as a result, the waste containers at these central collection points tend to fill more easily. The upshot of that was that we had to increase the number of times they were emptied. Not ideal, so we had to come up with another solution.”

More containers?

“That seemed the most logical solution, but wasn’t an option. In a densely populated city such as Leiden, we simply didn’t have the space for extra containers. What’s more, it’s a major operation to install containers. In our search for a solution, we eventually plumped for underground containers with a compaction system.”

Ralph Veelenturf
of the waste management department in Leiden

“The system is robust and the service excellent”

Dat bleek wél een goede oplossing?

“Yes, the trial phase with the first underground compactor went according to plan. All of a sudden we were able to store up to six times more waste in one container. One big advantage of having Sidcon compactors is that we could adapt them to our existing system of containers. It meant we didn’t have to make any concessions to the aesthetics of the townscape. For us, that was one of the preconditions.”

Are you still happy with the compactors?

“We’ve started with two waste compactors, but things are about to change. Fifteen more containers are currently being installed. It’s a major investment on our part, but it was logical to step up our collaboration with Sidcon: the system is robust and the service excellent. Whenever we report a problem, there’s a technician on the spot within an hour. In short, a great initiative!”