Report: Research preparation for WASTED’s Bulky Waste pilot

WASTED has been conducting research and consulting with key stakeholders such as the Noord community, municipality, and thrift shops to develop a effective and equitable bulky waste management strategy

 

As you probably already know, WASTED has been working on solutions to improve the management of bulky waste in Amsterdam. This is part of the City of Amsterdam’s wider goal of separating 65% of household waste by 2020. For more information on why managing bulky waste is important, check out this bulky waste article we wrote last month.

In order to understand the current bulky waste system in the Noord we conducted a variety of consultation sessions. This included an in depth explorative session with the municipality, a bulky waste journey break down with staff from De Locatie (Second hand retailer), surveys were sent out to WASTED members and we hosted a user journey workshop to understand community perspectives. The research gathered has been used to inform the design of our bulky waste pilot.

Items fall into two main categories. Cycle items are items that have potential to be sold or passed on with simple or no repair. Bulky waste however is larger waste that can’t be disposed of through the normal channels. This does not include construction or industrial waste.

Municipality

On the 8th of February WASTED participated in a comprehensive exploration session with the municipality. The aim of this session was to understand the rationale informing the current system, its strengths and weaknesses from the perspective of the municipality as well as their desired outcome of the pilot. The primary purpose of the pilot is to encourage local residents to bring their bulky waste through the WASTED compensation system to recycling locations such as the repair shop, thrift shop or waste point. This is because of five main reasons:

1. Focus on value retention emerged as a high priority during the meeting. This is because of the vast benefits accompanying prolonged product value. Promoting the repair and reuse of items is also within the municipalities circular economy goals. It is for this reason that repairing will provide the most rewards in the WASTED pilot, followed by product reuse and finally raw material reuse.

2. Do not involve municipal collection services in the pilot because the monthly service is monthly for a reason! The pick up service is designed to encourage people to bring their bulky waste to one of the recycling locations. This is because bulky waste being placed on the street requires ‘post separation’ and ‘source separation’ is more effective than post separation for retaining the value of both cycle items and waste. It is for this reason that putting bulky waste on the street will not be rewarded in the pilot.

3. Cooperation between the municipality and recycling centers is important. The municipality has a partnership with two cycle points, De Lokatie and Rataplan. These centres provide an important social function as well as practical, logistical assistance to managing cycle items. The municipality finances a pick-up service, to make the transport of high value used items from residences to the cycle locations.

4. Connect to existing networks that exist between local organisation such as thrift shops, charity shops, repair cafe’s, and other initiatives relevant to bulky waste. Increase the visibility of these existing networks will become another focal point for the pilot. A connection must be made with the manufacturing industry and residents in Noord, capitalizing on the physical and digital networks.

5. Customer feedback loops are important for the municipality in order to understand the pathways of bulky waste in Amsterdam. This is because in order to tackle the bulky waste problem, the root causes must be identified and ultimately producers of low-quality products must be held responsible for the increase of low quality items. In doing so, we hope that they will become part of the solution.

Service providers

On the 5th of March we invited some of our partners to join us at the WASTED studio in order to analyze bulky waste product pathways. We were lucky enough to have staff from thrift shop ‘De Locatie’ as well as coordinators for the waste point and waste collections in the Noord join us. During this session we mapped the journey of bulky waste in the Noord from residences to cycle or waste point. In order to understand the bulky waste journey fully, we asked our partners to write written explanations of their feelings about each step of the journey. There was a recognition that different issues occurred for cycle items and bulky waste that were picked up compared with being dropped off.

Regarding cycle items, a number of areas for improvement were identified for the collection service, which is provided by the cycle points. The timing of retrieval often leads to irritated users. This is because the pick-up service is divided into two sessions: from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm and from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm. This means that the user has to stay at home for a long and loosely determined period of time. Finally, the pick-up service currently has a waiting time of 2 weeks. The main problem occurring with the drop-off option is that the items that people bring can be of a low quality. Another area of concern for De Lokatie specifically is that paid parking is being introduced. This is reducing the number of parking places for visitors to drop off and pick up items.

The product journey of bulky waste from the users residence to the waste point revealed many positives. Residents can separate their waste into 18 different categories and there is personal guidance available at the container to guide people in what to do. This service is free! Residents can rent a van (or free a trailer) cheaply and the system works via a fast drive-in arrangement.

One disappointing reality is that some residents abused the opportunity to rent the van cheaply. The number of rented vans did not match the number of visits which resulted in the process being changed. Now residents have to register at the waste point in the morning before gaining access to the vans. Another weakness identified is the opening hours. The waste point is open from 9am to 5pm from Monday through to Saturday. The majority of residence work during the week, so the waste point can be extremely busy on Saturdays.

Residents Survey

During February we distributed a bulky waste poll survey to WASTED members. 145 surveys were returned and a WASTED coin was awarded to each of the members. The demographic of WASTED members to who returned the survey was representative of the Noord in terms of age and number of people per dwelling. The survey consisted of six parts: general, satisfaction, waste point, cycle, repair and transport. Some of the key findings were:

  •         – 59% put their bulky waste out on the street compared with only 28% who take it to the waste point

  •        – The collection service devised opinion with 34% crediting the service for their high valuation of bulky waste in the Noord.  Interesting 39% justified their low rating because of the infrequent collection times (once per month). 35% indicated that lack of transport for the bulky waste as being one area that could be improved.

  •        – Notably, of resident who delivered their bulky waste to the waste points, 46% indicated a desire or need to offload the waste prior to the pickup date as their primary motivation for delivering to the waste point.

  •         – 80% are aware of the repair café but unfortunately only 13.1% have visited.

  •         – 49% indicated that a cargo bike or trailer would be a good solution for transporting bulky waste to the waste point.

These results come from a multiple-choice question and show that there is a need for alternative transport options.

Residents Workshop

On the 5th of March we conducted a workshop with five residents from Amsterdam Noord. During this evening, 6 different “journeys” were discussed: pick-up service municipality, drop off point, retrieve cycle, recycle cycle, online platform (give away or sell) and repair. The key points identified during the workshop were:

  •         – Although everyone was familiar with the service, some of the specifics were unclear. Some of the points raised were clarity over “what day is scheduled for my neighborhood”, “where do I have to put my bulky waste for pickup”, and “can I call and have it picked up?”

  •         – Litter is problem in the Noord. The litter problem was considered to be exacerbated by the fact that the municipality does not have a sweeping service behind the bulky waste pick-up service.

From the research gathered, it is clear that there is a desire from the community for more information about what they can do with their bulky waste. There was a belief that improved transport options is a requirement for more sustainable behaviours to occur. Increasing transport possibilities could increase sustainable behaviour in the Noord. Ongoing social educational, promoting more sustainable social norms and improved technical and logical solutions will all be considered as part of the bulky waste pilot. For more information about pick up times and other logical information please go to the municipalities website. We look forward to launching our bulky waste pilot soon!


 

 

Created on 18 April 2018

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