Green Cities Fit for Life

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Bart de Bruin – CEO of Dar, Nijmegen’s Waste Management Centre and Company

Bart de Bruin, CEO of Dar

Bart de Bruin, CEO of Dar

The Dar Milieustraat is one of the ‘greenest’ streets in Nijmegen, but not due to the amount of trees, plants or cycle lanes it has, but because of its commitment to recycling. Dar, Nijmegen’s waste management company, has had a huge role to play in introducing a green way of living into the homes of Nijmegen’s citizens. We met with Bart de Bruin, CEO of Dar, and Pieter Balth-Linders, former CEO of Dar when Nijmegen applied and became the European Green Capital for 2018. We spoke with both of them to find out more about what Dar has done for the city and the successful ‘milieustraat’, or ‘Recycling’ street.
Pieter Balth-Linders, Former CEO of Dar

Pieter Balth-Linders, Former CEO of Dar

Established in 2014, the idea behind the Dar centre was to create a place where citizens could go to correctly dispose of their waste, while at the same time, being able to learn about the reasons these practices are carried out the way they are. Pieter-Balth explains, “The idea here is that Dar doesn’t just tell people what to do, we try to explain to them the reasons behind why they need to do it. There’s an educational element for citizens, which is quite nice. Of course, there will always be a lot of people who visit the facility and want to do things properly and put all their waste in the right containers. But there are also some people who simply want to get rid of their waste and haven’t given much thought to how their waste is disposed of. So, by having someone there to help you and to explain why you need to separate your waste a certain way, it ends up giving you a great sense of purpose and people become more interested in the importance of waste management as a result. ”Pieter Balth-Linders, Former CEO of Dar

On arrival to the centre, citizens are invited to enter the ‘recycling street’, which is clearly divided into a number of areas based on the types of materials that are being recycled. For instance, the first area is dedicated to reusable items like furniture. Next to this area you may then find the areas for wood, paper, plastics, metals, batteries or chemical waste, textiles and fabrics, and finally, an area for garden waste. In total, there are 27 different types of materials that can be recycled at the Dar centre.

Dar 2Nijmegen residents can leave various types of waste at the centre, under one condition: that they separate each type of waste from one another, putting paper with paper, metal with metal, and so on.

In Nijmegen, everybody is encouraged to recycle and they are entitled to free-of-charge recycling collections of up to 250kg/year. This is completely unique to Nijmegen and aims to make the process as affordable and easy as possible for citizens to get involved. Pieter-Balth explains, “We think it’s important to give this waste allowance to Nijmegen’s citizens as it stimulates and encourages them to separate their waste and bring it to the centre as a result. We don’t want all the waste mixed up together.” Bart agrees: “The centre is designed so you can clearly see where everything goes; I’ve got to put my wood there, my plastics here, and so on. We try and make where things need to go as obvious as possible.”

At the Dar centre, everything is divided into either reusable or recyclable waste. There’s also the possibility for composting and fermentation. Their focus is all about encouraging circular processes. Bart tells us how successful this idea has been, “A huge 83% of the waste that comes to this facility is recycled. For us, the optimal process is to reuse products.” 

Dar City DiaryThe Dar team’s green work does not stop there. They are also doing a lot to maintain Nijmegen’s green parks by working closely with social committees in the city. Bart said: “We are very proud to have been the starting point for some really positive projects. We believe that Nijmegen won the title of European Green Capital a result of cooperation. The waste separation and treatment system that we have here in Nijmegen is a result of hard work and collaboration between Dar, ARN BV (Nijmegen’s waste to energy plant), the city of Nijmegen and the people who live here. To be successful and achieve great results, we need everybody to be on board. Out of the 10 largest cities in the Netherlands, it is great to see that Nijmegen is standing out and getting such great results. It’s a fantastic example to other cities of what they can achieve through cooperation.” 

Compared to other large cities in the Netherlands, on average, less than half of Nijmegen’s waste is sent to incineration. With one of the best waste separation systems now firmly in place, Nijmegen continues to live up to its European Green Capital title.