Seenons X University of Amsterdam: 540,000 kg less waste and 70% recycling by 2026

In September 2022, the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and the College of Amsterdam (HvA) embarked on an ambitious journey towards towards a circular economy and reducing waste in their institutions. Their collaboration with Seenons is driven by their shared commitment to sustainability and their vision of significantly minimizing waste while maximizing recycling efforts.

Our goal?
33% less waste and 70% recycling by 2026

The challenge - From waste to valuable material

In 2021, a comprehensive research project was conducted to assess the feasibility of reducing waste and the value of materials at both UvA and HvA. The findings revealed that of the total 1,647,000 kilograms of waste generated, only 11% was being recycled in 2021. This indicated a significant amount of waste was being incinerated, highlighting the need for a more sustainable waste management strategy.

Subsequently, a visionary plan titled 'From Waste to Material' was formulated. This plan had two primary objectives:

  • 33% reduction in waste by 2026: Achieved through strategic procurement choices and the promotion of reusable packaging. This equates to approximately 540,000 kilograms less waste
  • 70% recycling of remaining waste in 2026: A substantial increase from the mere 11% recycling rate observed in 2011.

The solution - A new waste policy

The core of the new waste policy focused on waste reduction, efficient separation, and dedicated waste processing. During the summer holidays, a series of measures were put in place to drive these changes. Notably, nearly 20,000 small waste paper bins were replaced with 800 waste stations capable of separating four distinct waste streams:

  • GFT
  • Disposable cups, plates, and takeout containers
  • Plastic, metal, and drink cartons (PMD) alongside residual waste
  • Paper

Furthermore, a concerted effort was made to minimize the use of plastic waste bags for waste separation, targeting a 75% reduction. Importantly, this transition was accompanied by an innovative initiative: the recycling of discarded trash and paper bins into a novel product—a backdrop for the new waste stations.

Engaging stakeholder

Uniek en tegelijkertijd cruciaal binnen dit initiatief is om alle betrokkenen mee te krijgen: werknemers, studenten, bezoekers en externe partners. 

A crucial aspect of the initiative was the engagement of all stakeholders, including employees, students, visitors, and external partners. The campaign 'make your waste useful' was launched, urging everyone to segregate their waste meticulously and recognize the value of waste as a valuable resource for new products. Those who successfully participated in and completed the campaign's "test" by the end of the year earned the designation of "recycling expert."

"A small investment in time, with a huge impact on the future."

– Bert Zwiep, director Facility Services HvA en UvA

Bert Zwiep persbericht Uva Hva


The collaboration between UvA, HvA, and Seenons marks a significant step towards achieving a circular economy and reducing waste in educational institutions. By actively involving stakeholders and implementing innovative waste management practices, the partners aim to set an example for other organizations and work collectively towards a waste-free world.

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