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Project Summary Project Description Application of Tools Opinion of Tools Decision making process Contact Details

Decision making process

Name of the case study
Assessment of organic waste treatment in Denmark.

Decision making process - stages
The analysis of the different ways of managing organic waste was made at the stage of defining a waste policy. The analysis formed the basis for the EPA´s recommendations to municipalities on local waste strategies. It is, however, up to the municipalities on how to formulate the strategy locally.

Decision making process - levels
The decision to carry out the analysis on organic waste management was made at the political level. According to the EPA, using this analysis have made the consequences clearer, and has emphasized that clearer arguments are needed to explain the formulation of a certain waste strategy. The analysis was expected to show clearer differences between the different treatment methods, which would have enabled more direct recommendations to be identified to which strategies the municipalities should use. As the differences however are limited, the EPA accepts that municipalities use strategies other than incineration, as since local conditions might support this.

Decision making process - sources of information
The results of the analysis was communicated in a report from the Danish EPA.

Decision making process - who are the decision makers
The decision to apply the assessment on organic waste treatment was carried out by the government. Politicians in the municipalities decide whether they want to follow the guidelines from the assessment

Decision making process - who made the final decision for project implementation

Name of tool
ORWARE (LCA-analysis for organic waste)

Decision making process - tools in decision-making process
The tool was implemented in the analysis of different strategies for management of organic waste. This was decided by the Danish EPA. The conclusions from the report have been received rather differently in Danish municipalities, as they use different collection and treatment methods. Examples of how the report has been received by some local authorities follow: (Source: Miljømagasinet (The radio programme "The environmental Magazine"), P1 d. 23. May 2003).

In Grindsted the municipality is surprised about the conclusions. The municipalities own calculations and experiences show that it is cheaper to sort and collect the household waste in two fractions. Moreover they criticise that the benefits of reversal of nutrients to the soil by composting is not included in the analysis, and that the conclusions from the report might reduce the citizens incentives to sort their waste.

Herning municipality has, as a result of the report, abandoned their anaerobic digestion (biogas) waste treatment, based on sorting and collection in two sections. They made the decision as they were facing the need to invest in new containers for residues, and were aware that the new analysis was on the way. Many citizens have complained to the municipality about this, as they feel that they finally had a system that worked and did something good for the environment. However, the municipality insists that real environmental effect must be the primary motivation for choosing waste treatment method and the change is in response to the findings of national findings. Moreover, the citizens do not sort the waste 100% correctly (95% were sorting ok, but 5% did not). This causes problems with the biogas technology, which has not been sufficiently developed. Although this might be improved, the municipality do not expect a return to the recycling strategy.

Fredericia municipality has, since 1992, used a low-tech compost plant which functions very well; citizens come to the plant with their household and garden waste, producing usable compost. The sorting is very good, and it is likely that citizens are willing to expand the sorting and recycling strategy. The municipality’s experience is that it would cost app. 250 DKr. more per household per year to take the waste to incineration (due to environmental tax on incineration). Moreover, CO2 emissions are reduced, and it creates a product (compost) which is used by the citizens.

In Copenhagen, the guidelines from the EPA on organic waste will largely be followed. Although the waste-hierarchy will still be respected, focus on re-use is declining; instead more efforts will be made on collecting hazardous household waste. However, in some areas, for instance urban regeneration and renewal, projects on waste sorting and reuse will be started (interview, Copenhagen Waste Office).

The EPA recognizes that there are a number of positive environmental effects connected with recycling, which it has not been possible to include in the analysis. This could for instance be improved soil quality and less use of pesticides, as a consequence if the soil from composting process was used in private gardens. It is however assessed that the inclusion of these effects would not affect the results of the analysis. The EPA accepts that local conditions might mean that in some places there are more benefits of sorting, collecting and re-using waste in separate sections, instead of incineration (for instance, the distances for collecting the waste locally, as this is a main factor in the environmental account). It is however important that the citizens accept and support this solution (by sorting their waste correct), as the result is highly dependent on the degree of sorting by the users. If this is the case, they don´t expect the EPA´s report to influence the local preferences of waste treatment. The EPA refers to the EASEWASTE model under development at DTU, suggesting it be used by the municipalities to assess which is the most efficient waste management method locally.

Extracts from the report:
"In the cost benefit analysis both economic consequences for the affected parties and welfare-economic consequences for the society as a whole have been investigated. In the welfare-economic analysis the value of the environmental effects has been included.

The analysis was carried out by the Danish EPA, but was followed and discussed by a number of other actors from the waste sector. The LCA-analysis using ORWARE was carried out by JTI, Swedish Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Engineering and KTH, Royal Institute of Technology.

The analysis shows that it is more expensive (in a holistic way) for society to recycle organic household waste by anaerobic digestion or central composting than by incineration. Incineration is the cheapest solution for society, while central composting is the most expensive. The primary reason for recycling being more expensive than incineration is the necessary, but cost-intensive, dual collection of the household waste. Treatment itself is cheaper for recycling compared to incinerating. In the analysis the extra cost of the dual collection is calculated on the basis of full-scale experiments/tests in several municipalities.

The total welfare-economic additional cost, compared to present treatment, of recycling about half of the organic household waste, equal to 300,000 tonnes, by anaerobic digestion is DKK 230 mill. per year . The additional cost of recycling 300,000 tons by central composting is DKK 270 mill. per year. Anaerobic digestion of 100,000 tonnes will imply additional costs in the order of DKK 70 mill. per year, whereas central composting of 100,000 tonnes will lead to an additional cost of close to DKK 80 mill. per year.

Furthermore, technical studies have shown that there are only small environmental benefits connected with anaerobic digestion of organic household waste compared with the incineration of the waste."(end of extracts).

The analysis and calculations are based on assumptions on prices and costs, for instance on collection of waste, and different taxes on waste treatment. It has been analysed how sensitive the conclusions are to changes in these assumptions, and it appears that the ranking of the three alternatives – incineration, anaerobic digestion and composting – are rather stable to changes in the basic assumptions. "Break-even"-prices have also been calculated, i.e. calculations how much the basic assumptions should change before the ranking of alternatives would change. As an example: Experiences have shown that the extra costs for collecting two-parts households waste (waste sorted in an organic and non-organic fraction) from individual houses is 150 Dkr. per household per year, compared to traditionally non-sorted waste. This makes sorting and composting a more expensive alternative. To make this solution as economically favourable as the traditional solution, the extra-cost prices for collecting two-part waste should be reduced to 50 Dkr. per household per year.

The analysis was expected to show clearer differences between the different treatment methods, which would have enabled more direct recommendations on which strategies the municipalities should use. As the differences however are limited, the EPA accepts that municipalities use other strategies rather than incineration, as local conditions might support this. If, for instance, the municipality has as well established recycling programme the EPA will accept that the municipality continues to base the treatment of the organic waste on sorting and composting.

Name of tool
Socio-economic Assessment of Environmental Products (economic analysis)

Decision making process - tools in decision-making process
The socio-economic analysis does not always give the same result as local cost-benefit assessments, as for instance the tax on incineration affects the municipal cost-benefit analysis, but not the national. Also, Fredericia does not have its own incineration facilities, and therefore has to pay "rent" for incinerating the waste in other places, which makes it more expensive for the municipality (and for the society in general).

Decision making process - how was the information for the dmp disseminated
The results of the assessment have been disseminated to local decision makers (municipalities) in a report and in guidelines for future management of organic household waste.

Decision making process - how was the public involved
There was no aim to involve the public in the assessment, but different actors in the waste sector have followed and commented on the assessment.

Decision making process - was there public discussion over the project
There was no public discussion over the project although the local implementation of the assessment might involve public discussion.

What tools were used to assess sustainability?

ORWARE (LCA-analysis for organic waste)

Socio-economic Assessment of Environmental Products (economic analysis)

More information

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