Joint approach to a plastic-free IJssel in 2030

Zwolle – The participants of the Schone IJssel conference on December 8th want to work together with the aim of making the most beautiful river in the Netherlands plastic-free by 2030. ‘Only by working together can we really tackle the problem of waste at source’ . Leisure people, companies and volunteers get involved in cleaning up waste. Research shows that much more is needed to solve the problem structurally. Everyone should contribute to this based on their own responsibility.

Pure IJssel

Debris that flows with the river accumulates in the banks and estuary of the IJssel. It consists mainly of plastic and has various causes. It ends up in rivers via leisure people, industry, construction, shipping, city quays, ports, sewers and dumping. If nothing is done, the consequences for nature and people will become increasingly far-reaching, and the nuisance and costs of the approach will increase. It also makes the IJssel unattractive for tourism and day recreation.

Tijs de Bree, deputy for energy, environment and labor market in Overijssel: “I myself regularly walk along the banks of the IJssel. It’s really enjoying it. At the same time, it is unfortunate that there is also a lot of waste, including plastic waste. Nice of volunteers to clean up that mess, but it shouldn’t be necessary. That is why I am happy about this IJssel conference, where we are making concrete agreements on cooperation, knowledge sharing and the approach to a healthy and sustainable living environment on and around the IJssel.”

Governments, entrepreneurs, nature organizations and concerned residents come together to structurally tackle the problem of waste along the IJssel. On 8 December they met to discuss a common approach. Councilor Erik Faber from Kampen municipality and host of the meeting: “Due to our location at the mouth of the IJsselen, we feel the consequences of what happens along the entire stream. The waste goes with the flow and ends up on Kampen. That is why it is so important for us to work together with all parties along the IJssel on this.”


After 3 years of research into litter along the IJssel by approximately 120 volunteers from Clean Rivers, it appears that the most commonly found objects are undefinable pieces of plastic. The plastic soup phenomenon therefore already starts in the rivers. The most recognizable items found are: bottles, cans, food packaging, styrofoam, large pieces of plastic wrap, plastic granules, cotton swabs and sanitary napkins. These can easily be linked to the main causes: recreation, construction, industry and sewer overflows. During the conference, various measures were discussed that could prevent the formation of waste. Some examples:

Clear communication and good facilities in recreational areas have a positive effect on visitor behavior, reducing the amount of waste left behind by 70%. In tenders for construction projects, measures against the generation of waste can be included in the award criteria and companies that handle this carefully can gain an advantage in the tender. Entrepreneurs with a point of sale for take-away food and drink can be made responsible for keeping waste free from the environment up to 100 m away. For permits for events, recycling will become the norm instead of using disposable cups.

Action plan

Volunteers who clear a lot of rubbish in the area also spoke. In Rheden, there are e.g. different groups of residents who have adopted a bank stretch along the IJssel and regularly clean up. Volunteers from other municipalities also explained how persistent the problem is and what enormous efforts they are already making to keep roadsides, dykes, banks and nature clean. Their call to come up with measures to prevent waste did not fall on deaf ears.

The partners present will commit to this and actions and ideas will be brought together in a joint action plan that will be developed in the coming months. Deputy Peter van ‘t Hoog from the province of Gelderland: “I have a huge appreciation for the private initiatives that already exist to tackle waste in and around the IJssel. These volunteers inspire governments to step up their game. With the environmentally conscious and active citizen in in mind, we will continue our efforts to make IJssel plastic-free.”

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