Centre of Applied Research Technology

Rethinking Amsterdam Waste to Upcycling (RAW2U)

Circular system for bulky and special waste in the City of Amsterdam


Discarded items, such as sofas and mattresses, usually end up with our bulky waste and subsequently end up in the incinerator. The City of Amsterdam finds this a waste, given that the products, and the components and materials that they are made of, are often still perfectly usable. In line with its ambition to be fully circular by 2050, Amsterdam also wishes to take a circular approach to special and bulky waste. Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS) is therefore developing a vision for the future as well as a corresponding research agenda.

Grof afval op straat

Special and bulky waste essentially refers to anything not meant for or too large for domestic bins. In Amsterdam, this accounts for roughly 20% of domestic waste. Incinerating this type of waste means the value of these items and materials is lost, whereas they can offer opportunities for value creation, for example by giving them a second life performing the same function or by repurposing the components and materials in new products.

Systemic change

Taking a different approach to this stream of waste is a daunting task. It would, for example, involve changes to the way residents offer their waste for collection and changes to municipal waste collection methods and all the logistical effects that would entail. In addition, it would require changes in legislation, given that from a legal perspective waste can currently only be used as waste. In short, the entire system would have to change.

Vision for the future & research agenda

What would that new system look like? And how could that desired end result be achieved? The City of Amsterdam has initiated a number of pilot projects, such as smaller local collection points, but really is in need of a single overarching vision. The experts of the Urban Technology (UT) research programme have outlined that vision, involving a variety of AUAS disciplines. This process is coordinated by the Professorship in Circular Design & Business.


Step one in the process is a consultation round, taking place among the various AUAS disciplines involved: Circular Design & Business, Digital Production, City Logistics, Data Science, Spatial Urban Transformation, and Psychology for Sustainable Cities. A number of psychology-based issues were addressed, such as: How do we get residents to change the way they offer their waste for collection? What corresponding research needs to be carried out? In addition, the research teams is conducting workshops with employees of the City of Amsterdam aimed at fine-tuning the shared vision for the future, identifying any knowledge gaps and determining any relevant research contribution to be made by AUAS.


At the end of the project, the research team will produce a report containing:

  • An overview of the current knowledge, information and ideas of the City of Amsterdam and AUAS
  • A shared vision for the future & the visualisation of that vision
  • A UT-AUAS research agenda corresponding to the vision
  • Insight into the grant opportunities available for the research project

Inge Oskam, Professor of Circular Design and Business, had the following to say: ‘This project really showcases the multidisciplinary clout of AUAS. Systemic change has to be addressed and examined from all angles. From a technical perspective, as well as from a business and logistics perspective, and last but certainly not least from the perspective of the needs of residents themselves. This project encompasses all of this.’


The challenge faced by the City of Amsterdam (to transition to a more circular system for waste products) is the principal theme that being tackled by students following the cross-AUAS Circular City minor or the fourth-year Product/Service Combination course of the Industrial Design Engineering programme between September 2019 and February 2020.

16 June 2021

Project Info

Grof afval op straat
Start date 01 Sep 2019
End date 30 Apr 2020


Yanti Slaats