There's no such thing as waste
If we are no longer able to use/reuse products, we want to keep them in circulation by finding a new use for them. We first try to give the whole product a new life, but if this isn't possible, we repurpose the component parts.
Reducing residual waste
If materials cannot be reused, we separate them for recycling. At the end of 2020, we commenced a partnership with waste company Renewi with the aim of reducing residual waste. The composition of residual waste flows at NS locations is identified, and a decision is made about which waste is suitable for recycling and how this can be realised in practice by employees. In 2020, NS removed around 14 million kilos of waste from its offices, workshops and stations. We separated 55% of the total waste and presented it for recycling. The result was that 46% of this was actually recycled and 47% was incinerated to recover energy.
We separate waste in offices, workshops, stations, trains and in the shops.
Travellers can separate their waste at many of our larger stations. We are continuing to investigate opportunities for improvement, and we expand the options wherever this is possible and effective. In addition, about half of the waste released from stations and in trains is sorted afterwards to recover valuable materials such as plastics, metals and drink cartons. Ultimately, we are working towards stations where all waste can be reused as raw materials for new products.
In order to better recycle waste, post-separation takes place at a special waste factory. NS employee Lotte shows what happens to the waste.
After 40 years, we're looking at whether we can refurbish our trains, or put them to some other use, such as in the Railway Museum or the fire brigade, or sell them. If this isn't possible, we will recover the valuable parts for reuse in other trains and for the Techniek Fabriek, our training facility for mechanics. Collectors items will also be recovered for sale through the charity kaNScentraal e and we regularly auction our train materials.
In addition, we offer sustainable entrepreneurs the opportunity to make new products from old train materials. Through upcycling in this way, the materials are used for completely new purposes and thus continue to be of service.
For example, 45-year-old broadcast speakers from trains are converted into new Bluetooth living room speakers, while old train floors, train seats and ceiling plates are given a new life as furniture. In 2020, we opened an Upcycle Pop-up Store for the fourth time at Utrecht Centraal, selling new products made from old NS materials. Items included notebooks and trays made from yellow information boards, and bags, shoes and meditation cushions made from train fabrics.
When old train carriages are refurbished, all of the train floors and walls are replaced. NS employees Ilse & Remco explain what happens with these materials.
What products are available and where can you buy them?
- Espadrilles and beach bags made from old train seat upholstery
- Ping-pong tables and table football sets made from train floors
- Designer speakers made from public address speakers
- Tables made from train steps and furniture made from train floors
- Desksmade from train ceiling panels
- Chairs and chess board made from train floors and train steps
- Plant containers made from bins
- Notebooks, trays and lamps made from yellow information boards
- Bird houses, food trays and decorative birds made from yellow information boards
- Laptop covers and meditation cushions made from old train seat upholstery
- Bags made from OV-fiets inner tubes and banner material
- Backpacks, laptop sleeves, tablet sleeves and pencil cases made from train fabric