Waste separation

Around 40 different waste flows are collected at Schiphol. From organic waste, plastic and paper to metal, fluorescent tubes and coffee grounds. The waste comes from the terminal and offices, but also from aircraft. There are three recycling centres beneath the terminal where all the waste is collected and sorted. There is a separate container for each type of waste. Our waste management company SUEZ ensures that an increasing amount of Schiphol’s waste is reused and that less is incinerated.

What happens to the waste?

The proportion of waste that is recycled goes up every year. In 2020, we recycled 51%. In 2030, we aim to be a zero-waste airport. Here are some examples of the recycling we do:

  • Coffee grounds (around 1500 – 2000 kg of it) from the offices and terminal are compressed and turned into fireplace briquettes.
  • Waste paper and cardboard become new paper and cardboard. These materials have very strong fibres and can be recycled up to seven times.
  • Plastic waste is first sorted into PET, polyethylene and so on. After it has been cleaned and turned into little plastic balls, it is used for a variety of products including buggies and shopping baskets.
  • Every day, around 7000 to 9000 kg of organic waste (tea bags, banana skins, apple cores etc.) goes to the digester and is used to generate gas. This gas fuels the garbage trucks at Schiphol.
  • Bottles still containing drinks and perfume go to a special bottlenecker that is able to separate liquid from glass. The glass is finely crushed and taken to a glass recycling centre that makes new glass bottles. The liquid is taken to a treatment plant. Construction and demolition debris is sorted and 90% of it reused.
  • Residual waste goes into the incinerator and the energy released is reused.

Separate collection of PET bottles

Since July 2021, there have been special bins for the separate collection of PET bottles at Schiphol. The reason behind this is the introduction of a €0.15 returnable deposit on these bottles as of 1 July. Schiphol is not obliged to collect these bottles and return the deposits, yet we are collecting them separately in order to ensure that they are recycled to a higher standard than if they were mixed with other plastics. The deposits on these bottles will be donated to the collaborating charities Amref and Made Blue. They will put the money towards projects for clean drinking water in Ethiopia. The special collection bins are themselves made from recycled PET and have been printed with sustainable ink.