How to recycle waste in the Netherlands

Let's give some guidelines on how to recycle your waste in the Netherlands.

Separating and recycling your waste is essential to keep our environment clean. Don't know where to start with your recycling journey? Let's give some guidelines on how to recycle your waste in The Netherlands.

Dutch waste management 

Municipalities are responsible for the waste management in the Netherlands. You pay once a year for the collection and processing of waste through municipal waste charges. If you don't recycle your waste properly, you're risking a fine from your municipality.

How you recycle depends on where you live. Most households get a rolling recycling container to separate waste at home. These recycling containers are emptied when you put them along the roadside. Big cities and areas with high-rise buildings have underground containers. Some operate with a (environmental) waste card, while others are always open to use.  

What do I need to recycle?

What you need to recycle depends – again – on where you live and how it's arranged in your area. How your city handles its waste management can be found on your municipality's website. Are you renting from Holland2Stay? Check your online account for all information about recycling your waste. 

The general rule to follow is: recycle for which there is a container. For example, some cities don't have (underground) containers for organic waste and plastic waste. Waste is post-separated: substances that can still be recycled are automatically taken out. In general, you need to separate these kinds of waste:

  • Residual waste
  • Paper and cardboard waste 
  • Plastic, metals, and drink containers
  • Organic waste 
  • Glass waste
  • Batteries and light bulbs 
  • Textiles 

Residual waste

The general rule is that if you cannot separate the waste, you can throw it away as residual waste (restafval in Dutch). When there are no containers for organic waste and plastic waste, you can recycle this as residual waste. The waste is post-separated: substances that can still be recycled are automatically taken out. Collect everything in a waste bag and dispose of it in a (underground) container. 

  • Aerosol cans (whipped cream, deodorant, hairspray)
  • Chewing gums
  • Coffee cups
  • Dirty paper or cardboard (pizza boxes, baking paper)
  • Drinking glasses and bowls
  • Envelopes with plastic bubbles
  • Photographs
  • Razor blades
  • Sanitary pads and tampons
  • Shopping bags
  • Vacuum cleaner bags

Paper and cardboard waste

Paper and cardboard (papier en karton) can be recycled together. If you can’t tear the paper or cardboard and when it’s dirty, it doesn’t belong with paper and cardboard waste. Photographs and dirty pizza boxes are considered to be residual waste.

Make the paper and cardboard as small as possible. Remove any plastic leaflets from the cardboard. Dispose of it in a (underground) container or place it on the sidewalk on certain collection days. Consult the website of your municipality to check the collection days. 

  • Cardboard boxes
  • Newspapers, leaflets, envelopes
  • Toilet rolls

Organic waste 

Recycle vegetables, fruits, and any garden waste (groente-, fruit- en tuinafval (gft) in Dutch) as organic waste. It’s made into compost. This type of waste will fermented and composted into useful products, such as green gas, CO2, and compost. Collect it in a compostable waste bag, which you can buy in most supermarkets. Dispose of it in a (underground) container. 

  • Flowers
  • Food waste (also brewed coffee without cup and tea bags with label and string)
  • Used napkins, tissues, and paper towel

Plastics, metals, and drink containers 

Recycle all plastic, cans, and drink containers (plastic, metalen en drinkpakken (pmd) in Dutch) together. To be sure which plastic packaging can be recycled, check the instructions on the packaging itself. Return beverage cans with a deposit back to the supermarket – good for your wallet!

Everything needs to be empty and you can leave the cap on bottles. In some municipalities, you need to collect your plastics, metals, and drink containers into a bag that's meant for plastic waste. You can find these bags in any supermarket. Dispose of it in a (underground) container. 

  • Aluminum (aluminum foil, aluminum dishes)
  • Cans (beer cans, soda cans, syrup cans)
  • Chip bags
  • Drink containers
  • Plastic containers (yogurt, fruit, and salad cups, plastic bags, plant pots, detergent bottles)
  • Small plastic objects (toys)


Throw glass jars and bottles in a glass container. Recycle the correct colored glass in the correct bin: white or clear glass with white, green glass with green, and brown glass with brown. Drinking glasses and bowls need to be recycled as residual waste. Mirrors need to be recycled at the recycling center. Consult the website of your municipality to check where you can find glass containers close to your home.

  • Jars and bottles that contained cosmetics, perfumes, and medicines
  • Jars and bottles that contained drinks and (baby) food

Batteries and light bulbs

Empty batteries contain some leftover power, which can cause a fire. Always bring them to a collection bin. Stores and supermarkets that sell batteries and light bulbs often have a collection bin. 


Clothing, shoes, and bags are textiles. You can throw it in the textile bin if it's still in good condition. Some charities pick up clothing and other textiles at home. Put the clothing in a tightly sealed bag when recycling it. Consult the website of your municipality to check where you can find textile containers close to your home.

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