State Secretary Stientje van Veldhoven (Infrastructure and Water Management) has decided that there will be a garbage import ceiling for the Netherlands. With this step, the central government contributes to the crisis around the Amsterdam Waste and Energy Company (AEB).

The import ceiling means that no new contracts can be concluded for the incineration of foreign waste in the Netherlands.

The Netherlands is one of the largest waste importers within the European Union. 5,600 kilotons of waste were imported in 2016. In particular, many contracts have been concluded with the United Kingdom.

The Waste Management Association has been arguing for an import ceiling for some time. Buying out contracts increases the capacity for domestic waste and solves the problem in one go. But the cabinet is now only talking about new contracts, not about the contracts that are already running.

Whether the existing contracts will be honored is therefore still unknown. If the AEB wants to cancel the contracts, the company can decide that independently. Any damage claims would then be at the expense of the AEB. But due to the financial problems the company has, such a cost item will in all probability be passed on to the municipality.

If the existing contracts are not broken, the intervention of the State Secretary is only a long-term solution.

Existing contracts must be honored

The waste policy is officially the responsibility of municipalities, but according to Van Veldhoven the problems at the AEB show that a local crisis can lead to national concerns.

The AEB burns one-sixth of all waste that is incinerated in the Netherlands. since the beginning of July, however, four of the six ovens have been standing still, causing the garbage to accumulate. The waste is dumped in Noord-Holland and Flevoland as a temporary solution, but this is not a structural solution.

"I think that our waste management should become more future-proof, and I am going to look at what is needed for it. In the meantime, all parties involved are looking at what measures are now needed to resolve the situation in Amsterdam. This temporary import ceiling helps with this," said the State Secretary.