SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Netherlands is to temporarily stop importing waste from abroad because of problems at struggling waste disposal company AEB in Amsterdam.
Most of the waste produced in the Netherlands is incinerated at the plant but 20% of the total comes from outside the Netherlands. Imports will stop when current contracts run their course, the infrastructure ministry said.
The AEB, which was touted as the most innovative waste incinerator complex in the country in 2006, and which also provides city heating for 35,000 households, has been plagued by problems.
Despite a capital injection of €16m, four of the six incinerators had to be closed this July, greatly reducing capacity at the plant.
However, the association of waste processors VA have said the halt in foreign imports, imposed by the government and Amsterdam council, does not go far enough.
It warns that domestic waste collection could be under threat in some parts of the Netherlands. The VA has now called on the ministry to impose a ceiling on imported waste so current contracts with foreign firms can be dissolved as well.
‘If there is no solution within the next 10 days, waste collection will stop the week after,’ a VA spokesperson told NOS. The affected areas will be mostly in the Amsterdam region.
The ministry has said dissolving contracts is not a matter for the state but for the companies themselves but has said it is willing to talk to all parties about a solution.
‘Waste processing policy is the responsibility of the local authorities but the crisis at the AEB has shown that local problems can lead to national ones,’ junior infrastructure minister Stientje van Veldhoven said.
‘I think our waste management has to be more future proof and I will investigate what is needed to achieve this.’ In a reaction, Amsterdam local council said the problem in the capital is part of the national waste processing chain. ‘If it stalls than that is a national problem,’ a spokesperson told NOS.