Sewer NOT a garbage disposal

All buildings in The Hague are connected to the municipal sewer system. You can contribute to its upkeep and good functioning by obeying a few simple rules.

The sewer system is NOT a garbage disposal!

The wastewater which is flushed through the toilet or kitchen sink into the sewer ends up in sewage treatment plants. There it is purified and flushed into the surface water (ditches, ponds etc.). The more polluted the sewage water is, the more energy and chemicals that are needed to cleanse it. Luckily we can do a lot ourselves to ensure that our wastewater is not polluted unnecessarily.

Clogged sewer pumps

Things can already go wrong on the way to the sewage treatment plants, namely at the pumping station. Filters and drainpipes can usually handle the toilet paper flushed down the toilet. However, they might balk at flushing through other kinds of objects. Things that most definitely do NOT belong in the toilet (and the sewer) include:

  • tampons
  • women’s sanitary towels
  • condoms
  • diapers
  • baby wipes
  • disposable cleaning wipes
  • toilet freshener holders

These kinds of objects clog the municipal drains and filter system and that means that the pumps have to be cleaned several times a week. These extra cleanings cost the municipality thousands of euros a year in additional expenditures. This money can be better spent in other ways. The municipality asks its residents to avoid throwing the above-mentioned objects down the toilet not only out of financial interest but also in the interest of the environment. Most toilet paper breaks down easily in water; the rest does not.

What is not allowed in the toilet?

  • Grease and oil. These substances easily become stuck to the inside of the drain and it is only a matter of time before the drain becomes clogged. In addition, these substances can seriously harm the sewage purification process.
  • Fibrous fabrics. Cleaning cloths, dishcloths, rags and wipes and the ever popular disposable cleaning wipes are difficult to flush and pump through the sewer system.
  • Women’s sanitary towels. See the information about fabrics.
  • Plastics. Plastic wrap, sandwich bags and plastic sheeting cannot be pumped through the system. They float, get filled with water and cause great damage, obstructing the drains. Rubber becomes caught in the pumps; condoms are a good example of this.

The list of items that get thrown into the sewage is endless and amazing. Cat litter, leftover building materials, motor oil, paint and turpentine, aggressive cleaning agents all cause considerable damage to the system and should simply not be in there!

The way forward

Use the toilet, kitchen sink, shower and rainwater drainpipes only for their true purpose. Materials that can clog the sewer system or harm the purification process can be placed in the garden and kitchen waste bins (GFT), rubbish bags or turned in at 1 of the garbage and recycling stations.

Also see

  • Separating waste

Published: 7 September 2009Modified: 23 June 2017