MAASTRICHT. To tackle the rubbish problems in the surroundings of the waste separation station on the Volksplein in the Mariaberg area, the Maastricht city council has come up with the trial project called the Rubbish Coach. Until February, Rubbish Coach Dennis Wilhelmus will be ready two days a week, eight hours a day, to advise residents - willingly or unwillingly - on how to separate their waste.
The waste separation station in Mariaberg is one of the filthiest in Maastricht, a so-called hotspot. On weekdays in August, forty to fifty kilos of waste were placed beside the containers. In the weekends, the figure even went up to one hundred to one hundred-and-fifty kilos a day. This could be household waste, but also matrasses and refrigerators. “Household electric goods can be disposed of free of charge at one of the recycling centres.”
“Collecting this waste is very labour-intensive and the waste also attracts a lot of vermin,” says Wilhelmus. In addition, residents can save a lot of money by separating their waste better. For example, at the moment a lot of plastic is still disposed of in the official red rubbish bags. Plastic can be deposited for free at either the waste separation station or the recycling centres. “If you separate your waste well, you need to buy fewer rubbish bags.”
“I will not be there to fine people, but I will talk to them about how to deal with their waste.” He will not only advise residents at the waste station, but he will also knock on doors to inform them. Prevention is better than cure, says Anhilde de Jong, policy advisor for Waste and Clean.
“The Rubbish Coach is for everyone,” says Wilhelmus. Still, students constitute a special target group. Many ‘offenders’ are new students. “They often don't know the rules yet. We also see a peak in August and September, which is when the new first-year students arrive”.
Resident Dick Brüggemann thinks it is a “brilliant initiative”, although he fears that the project won't be very successful. He believes that there are people who will never learn. Whether this is the case, the city council can only tell at the end of the trial. “It is a pilot to see if it works and to identify any bottlenecks. If all goes well, we will do the same at other locations,” says De Jong.