City of Antwerp fights against illegal dumping with 'XL campaign'

The city of Antwerp, city services and police are upping vigilance in order to stop illegal dumping. In what they are calling an "XL" campaign, they will search for evidence in garbage illegally left on the street. So far this year, 28 such actions have already taken place, and the project will be expanded, the city said in a press release on Wednesday.

Last year, Antwerp collected 5,791 tonnes of litter and 9,863 tonnes of fly-tipped items. The city wants to tackle this with additional staff and targeted measures after receiving around 75,000 reports per year.

"There are very few cities that do more in terms of city cleaning," said mayor Bart De Wever (N-VA). "We are the European champions when you look at the number of bins per inhabitant." In Antwerp, each resident pays 148 euros yearly for a clean city, "and yet the result is not always good," he said.


To catch offenders, the city organises campaigns where they search for litter and gather evidence to detect and sanction those responsible. Several city departments work together: the household waste collection service, a litter team from the city council, the local neighbourhood management and the Antwerp police district team.

On average, 75 bags or objects are searched during an XL action, resulting in an average of 10 official reports. Leaving garbage on the street is not an option, says city councillor Els van Doesburg (N-VA). "We don't want to punish people for being clean," she said. "Dirt also attracts vermin and more dirt."

The city has been experimenting fwith a fee for the clean-up costs when a perpetrator is caught in the act and has already collected more than 50,000 euros this way. "That's twice as much as last year, so the system is getting up to speed," said De Wever.

Finally, the city says it will invest extra in mobile cameras, which may or may not use artificial intelligence. “A pilot project using AI was quite successful. The more data, the better the enforcement,” said Van Doesburg.


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