The Hague, Netherlands "Cleaning the streets with a Glutton® is a pleasure. It collects everything easily, wherever it goes."

M. PELLE

Head of cleansing service
THE HAGUE, Netherlands

About:

FACTS AND FIGURES

  • Cleanliness guaranteed 24/7
  • 525,000 residents
  • 200,000 visitors per day
  • Smart city
  • Seat of government
  • Seat of several international institutions

65 Glutton® machines in service

Interview

Can you tell us about your department?

For 16 years I've headed Haags Veegbedrijf, the street cleaning department of the city of The Hague. Haags Veegbedrijf has a workforce of around 700. Every day we handle waste collection in public spaces: removing weeds, emptying public litter bins, maintaining the roads, etc. We are not responsible for collecting domestic waste.

The Hague and the district of Scheveningen are expanding fast and becoming a single conurbation. They fall under our responsibility. Together, they account for 525,000 residents. The Hague is one of the four largest cities in the Netherlands. They are known as the G4: Rotterdam, Amsterdam, The Hague and Utrecht.

Can you describe your town in more detail?

The Hague is different for two reasons. First, The Hague is the seat of government, and second, it is a coastal city. Because it's the seat of government, there are visits by heads of state. All the embassies are based in The Hague along with many international organisations. We must pay special attention to these districts.

The Hague's coastal location means that unfortunately, we find huge quantities of rubbish in the sand. We welcome 200,000 day trippers, and coastal tourism is on the increase. About 20% of the waste is thrown away on the beach or promenade. On the beach we use large tractors towing cleaning systems, and on the promenade we use the Glutton®. We clean the promenade from the early hours all the way though until midnight, especially in high season. With wider vehicles we couldn't get through the crowds.

With the Glutton®, we can do it. We use the Glutton® vacuum cleaner seven days a week, up to midnight in high season.

What is your mission? What are the challenges you face?

Our mission is to keep the city clean at all times. Our mantra is "constant cleanliness": you don't want to clean the city, you want it to stay clean. You never want to reach the point where you say "there's so much rubbish that we need to go an clean it up". The city must stay constantly clean. That means cleaning among and around crowds of people.  It must be obvious that cleaning is taking place – this acts as a deterrent to dropping litter. More and more events, concerts, etc. are organised on the beach. The name of the game is to give them a warm welcome. You need to make sure you're ready and stay ready. This applies to the city centre as well as the coastal district.

We have an amazing city centre with many historic buildings, the seat of government, and the shopping street, where we need to maintain a presence seven days a week. Now that the shopping street has been renovated, we keep it constantly clean with a Glutton®.

When did you discover the Glutton®?

We discovered the Glutton® by accident in a way. At the time, the government was giving out grants to support "sensitive neighbourhoods" in several major cities. We got in touch with Glutton® to work out whether we could invest more in certain neighbourhoods. That's how it all began. We've really enjoyed working with the machine. The feedback has been extremely positive. And things have moved on very quickly – from just a few Glutton® machines at the beginning to 65 today. It was a big success.

Can you tell us about your first electric machine?

We were among the first cities to try out the electric Glutton®. Sustainable development is something we take seriously. When electric versions became available, we quickly decided to make everything electric. And right from the start, Glutton® really did live up to its promised eight-hour battery life. That's been really useful! Throughout this time and in all the years we've been working with Glutton®, I've never had to go out and rescue a broken down Glutton®!

What do you think are the benefits of the Glutton®?

With the Glutton®, you can clean places where hands, grippers or large street sweepers cannot reach. The city has lots of visitors, especially the city centre. So there are many places were small items of rubbish collect, and the Glutton® meant that we were suddenly able to access them.

The Glutton® has good suction power and picks up everything: it can move between and around bikes and trees, it can go through gates, etc. Leaving the tightest corners and recesses clean. With the Glutton®, you can keep your whole neighbourhood clean, even the drains.

Do you think the Glutton® is a good solution for users and for the city's residents?

Cleaning the streets with a Glutton® is a real pleasure. You can keep your whole neighbourhood clean, very easily. For staff, the Glutton® is easy to use and allows on-the-job learning so they can work with different machines. This makes their working day more varied.

And it is evidently the perfect solution for the city's residents, too. You can use it among crowds of people, and early in the morning. Passers-by respond to the machine and stop to have a look… The Glutton® is an obvious sign of cleaning taking place, acting as a deterrent to dropping litter. This gives residents the feeling that "wow, my city is clean".

Is the Hague about to become a "smart city"?

Yes, that's about to happen. We're currently creating an application for our personnel. We have about 60 neighbourhood service teams – teams which cover a specific district or neighbourhood in the city. This means that links can be created with the local residents. We're also developing an application making it easier to record certain things and to plan the next day's work, for example with the Glutton®. It is already very easy for residents to alert us to problems. In The Hague we have an application called 'buiten beter' (better outside) that residents can use to tell us about issues.