Centre of Applied Research Technology

Helping urban households sort waste better (BASSTA Plus)


Proper sorting of waste flows creates opportunities for recycling and other circular applications. Yet a lot of food scraps still end up in the plastic waste bins and vice versa. Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS) is conducting research to identify interventions (or combinations of interventions) that municipalities might use to help residents more effectively sort their waste.

The Netherlands has set a goal of being fully circular by 2050. Effectively sorting waste, so that it can be used as a raw material for new products, is a crucial aspect of this. Yet it remains difficult to persuade residents – particularly those in high-rise buildings – to always separate their waste before tossing it in the bins.

Making benefits tangible

‘As it stands now, residents often lack the knowledge and motivation it takes to sort their household waste properly,’ says Maarten Mulder, AUAS Circular Transition researcher and project leader. Now, residents often receive nothing more than a flyer from the city telling them which days to set out which type of waste for pick-up. To actually change behaviour, however, you need more drastic interventions that make separating waste flows easier and make the benefits of doing so tangible.

Various behavioural interventions

In BASSTA Plus, AUAS is cooperating with municipalities, waste collection companies and other social organisations to explore which interventions (or combinations of interventions) encourage proper waste-sorting behaviour. A variety of behavioural interventions are researched, including a starter’s package, setting targets for specific groups, informative surveys and using the bin itself as a means of communication. Residents are being involved in the project through field research that tests the interventions in real-world circumstances.


There are eleven partners in the consortium: Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, the municipalities of Amsterdam, Amersfoort, The Hague and Alphen aan den Rijn, ROVA and Avalex (regional waste collection companies), Rijkswaterstaat, the Dutch Association of Waste Processing Companies (NVRD) and Milieu Centraal, the Dutch public information service on energy and the environment. The municipality of Rotterdam is also involved in the project. If you are interested in participating, please contact the project team.


Students in the Applied Psychology, Product Design and Communication & Multimedia Design programmes at AUAS take part in the research. The students help develop and test the interventions.


BASSTA Plus is the successor to the BASSTA project (2021-2023), in which AUAS researchers gathered detailed information on how people living in flats in Amsterdam, Utrecht, Alphen aan den Rijn and other cities manage their household waste, from the moment the waste is created in their homes to when they deposit in a bin outside. They also developed and tested a number of interventions in cooperation with social organisations, municipalities and other government bodies.

City Net Zero and Urban Governance & Social Innovation Centres of Expertise

BASSTA Plus is an initiative of two Centres of Expertise, City Net Zero and Urban Governance & Social Innovation (UGSI). The participating research groups – Circular Design & Business and Psychology for Sustainable Cities – research and develop innovations to help create a circular economy and society.

Published by  Centre for Applied Research Technology 5 December 2023

Project Info

Start date 01 Jun 2023
End date 31 May 2025