Amsterdam Afval Energie Bedrijf
There’s a fascinating side of Amsterdam that few people consider and that is its waste. What happens after you toss that bag of trash? Does it go to some landfill in Flevoland or Friesland or maybe just end up in the canal or the IJ?
The answer may surprise you. About 99% of that trash is recycled, repurposed, and transformed into heat and power to be used by businesses and homes in the city.
The main activity of the Afval Energie Bedrijf is waste incineration. More than 1.4 million tons of garbage from households and businesses are delivered to the facility each year. That equals about 500,000 garbage bags per day! This waste is stored in a huge 30 meter high tower. From there it is then moved to a high temperature oven for incineration at more than 1200 degrees Celsius. Hot!
The burning process produces heat and steam which creates energy and leaves behind ash and other recyclable materials.
You probably come into contact with the end products of the Afval Energie Bedrijf (AEB) on a daily basis. The energy produced through the incineration process is used to power the city’s trams, Metro and street lights. The generated heat is distributed across the city providing hot water and heating for 12,000 households and businesses. Incombustible materials recovered from the smoke and ash are recovered and recycled (such as metals) or reused as construction and building materials (such as tar and gypsum).
The AEB also partners with other organizations like NUON and Waternet to create sustainable energy and process sewage wastes. AEB has the lofty goal of being the world’s best processor of waste, and not only manages Amsterdam’s trash but also waste from England and Germany.
We recently took a tour of the Afval Energie Bedrijf and came away extremely impressed with the facility and its mission to create a sustainable city. If you have a chance don’t miss a tour of this interesting organization. Visit amsterdam.nl/afvalenergiebedrijf to learn more.