Plastic Is So Confusing

Amsterdam doesn’t make recycling very easy. It could possibly be that I’ve been spoiled back home in Maryland where you have 2 bins: 1 for trash, the other for all the things you know can be recycled. All the recycling goes in one bin and you put it out on the street 1x a week. Easy peasey.

Here, in the ‘big’ city things are a bit more complicated.

First off I’m lucky that all I have to do is take my trash out to the street and sit it next to an Amsterdam pole. Since I live in a more posh neighborhood filled with houses, the garbage men come to you to pick the trash up. If I lived in an apartment building I most likely would have to take my trash bags to a trash receptacle which could be a good walk depending on where it’s located in your neighborhood.

The trash poles that are about every 10 feet. The 3 x has something to do with Amsterdam. That’s the extent of my A’dam history.

As for the recycling, we have to separate everything around here. Definitely takes more effort then back home. The only thing you don’t have to recycle is the aluminum because apparently they have magnets that suck all the cans out of the trash. I really hope this is the truth and not some myth. On top of separating everything you have to take your paper and glass to the recycling receptacles located near the trash ones. I would say the one closest to me is about 200 meters away from my front door. Could be worse.

The interesting thing about the recycling here is the plastic. Plastic isn’t recycled. Only plastic bottles are but the catch is not all are recycled. The plus is that you get cash back when you recycle, the minus is that I have no friggin’ clue what bottles get recycled!

Here’s the situation…You can take your plastic bottles to the local super market (ie, Albert Heine, Dirk, or Ecko Plaza), put them in this bottle returner machine, and then the automatic machine will suck in the bottle and give you a paper slip with the amount of money you earned from your bottles where you take to the cashier to redeem.

The problem here is that there is no sign on the machine nor the bottles that tell you if the bottle is recyclable. The only way to find out is when the machine makes this awful loud sound and the screen on the machine says some words in Dutch that it’s not recyclable. All I can understand is “geen” and “fleisch” (no and bottle). No matter if I couldn’t read it, I definitely know that I’m doing something wrong because of the sound.

The worst part of this experience is the extremely loud sound the machine makes. Remember when you play board games or watch quiz shows and someone get’s the answer wrong? Well multiply that by 5 and think of sirens from a police car and that’s the sound it makes while you’re in the market. I feel like the biggest loser in the store.

Most of the time my bottle doesn’t win and I feel it’s a reflection of me. My jackals go off in my head that the shoppers are judging me that I’m too dumb to figure out the bottle machine. Then I try to put the bottle in the opposite way with the cap towards me and again that awful sound. So I put that bottle back and try another bottle. Once again, that horrible sound.

Today I tried 5 different bottles and not one of them was taken by the machine! I do know they have to be a certain size but other than that I have no idea what the other criteria are. I ended up walking out of the Albert Heine unsuccessful with my full bag of empty bottles and not a single dime.

Maybe one of the Dutchies can help me figure out which bottles are acceptable by the machine and which aren’t because I really thought I had at least one winner with the Evian bottle. I mean if you’re going to pay that much for a water you better be getting some money back. Apparently not.

Help please.

Am I just supposed to put these in the trash now?

I also want to clear up any assumptions. I don’t actually buy bottled water or anything bottled for that matter. I only drink from the tap and on occasion wine and beer. I’m very simple when it comes to my liquids. I think drinking out of a cup is a waste of a cup. Reusable water bottles are where it’s at because you don’t have to wash it as much as a cup and you can take it with you anywhere.

I heart water bottles.

The water bottle I take with me everywhere. It was a great present from a lemon right before I left for Knowmads.



4 thoughts on “Plastic Is So Confusing

  1. Love the blog! I know that my spa bottles are always accepted by my AH machine. Also if I have an AH juice or something bottle it always accepts it. Good luck with this;)…it’s part of our adventure.

    • I learned today that if it has a small trash can on the label that means it’s ok to throw away. Question for you since I never get my receipt (what’s the word in Dutch? they say something like “bowmbsmay”), the glass AH juice, you know the one’s that are delicious, can you return those for money?

  2. A bottle returner machine will only accept bottles which have a container deposit and are similar to the ones sold at that particular store / chain (barcodes are scanned), in general: PET (recycling symbol 1) soda and water bottles and glass beer bottles. These bottles will have the word ‘statiegeld’ (container deposit) or ‘statiegeldfles’ (container deposit bottle) written on them. The machine will make a loud noise if one tries to get a refund on an empty bottle on which a deposit was never made. It’s 25 cents fraud prevention at your emotional expense.

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