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Project description

Name of the case study
Solid Waste in Copenhagen

Description of context
Recycling of solid waste including recycling of household waste has been a part of Denmark’s waste handling strategy for the last 20 years. With regard to the total production of solid waste, the recycling percentage is quite high: between 60 and 65 % in recent years. However, household waste has been lagging behind with only 10 % of the daily refuse and 17 % of the bulky waste being recycled.

Description of project - background
One of the main challenges has been to involve residents in the pre-collection sorting of solid waste. A basic assumption for the two experiments described in this case is that local organisations like the NGO ´Copenhagen Environment and Energy Office´ (KMEK) are more efficient in engaging local residents actively in waste sorting than the rather large waste handling companies. Two pilot projects have been carried out in two parts of Copenhagen: ´Indre Nørrebro´ and ´Kgs. Enghave´.

In ´Indre Nørrebro´ KMEK started the experiment in collaboration with local residential organisations, the Waste Disposal Company of 1898 (R98) and the municipality in 1998. The strategy in Indre Nørrebro is to have many fractions – to be able to sort as many recyclable materials as possible. Local composting of ´green´ kitchen waste is part of this strategy.

In Kgs. Enghave the professional organisations, the social housing companies, and their relations with R98 dominated the project. Focus has been on the quality of the recycled materials. Local composting on district level was to be part of the project, the ´green´ kitchen waste was collected, but the project team was not able to find a technological and economical suitable solution during the project period. The materials were transported to another city for composting. Danwaste Consult has evaluated both the Indre Nørrebro project and the Kgs. Enghave project, using a kind of Cost-Benefit Analysis (without transforming the benefits to a monetary value).

Description of project - objectives/aims
The sustainability statement focuses on the environmental aspects:
• Less Waste
• More Recycled Materials
• More Reuse
Social and economic aspects are indirectly touched upon.

Before the projects, the recycling % was 17 in Indre Nørrebro and 15 in Kgs. Enghave. In Indre Nørrebro the recycling percentage increased to 35 %, in Kgs Enghave to 32 %. The cost of running the project in Indre Nørrebro is however considerably higher than in Kgs. Enghave, according to Danwaste´s evaluation. (Suggesting, indirectly, that the Kgs. Enghave project is better than the Indre Nørrebro project)

The project in Indre Nørrebro has furthermore been evaluated as a part of the LIFE-project Økobyen på Indre Nørrebro – Ecocity (1997 – 2000). The focus of this evaluation was especially the collaboration between the Municipality and the NGO´s. The evaluation concluded that this form of project could be a vehicle for new forms of collaboration and stimulation of the local social environment.

The recycling percentages of 32% in Kgs. Enghave and 35% in Indre Nørrebro could be compared with the general recycling percentage for similar waste in Copenhagen: 21%. They could also be compared with the average Danish recycling percentage for daily refuse of 10% and bulky waste of 17% mentioned above. In both cases the systems means an improvement.

Description of project - time interval and stages
Both projects have been implemented gradually in (parts of) the two districts in Copenhagen.

Description of project - financing
It is uttermost difficult to describe the financing of the projects. The projects are primarily financed as a part of the entire solid waste handling. There are a number of different interpretations of what the costs of running the two projects are.

Description of project - other sectors involved
As the waste is incinerated in a plant generating combined heat and power, waste is linked heavily to the energy sector. Incineration is not considered recycling in the Danish context – thus recycling and reuse is partly in conflict with the production of energy. It is particularly discussed whether the organic part of the daily refuse should be used for bio-gas, composted or incinerated – this discussion has being going on in the Danish waste sector for at least the last 15 years.

Transport is a factor to take into consideration in relation to waste handling. More fractions of recyclable materials can cause more transport.

What tools were used to assess sustainability?

Cost Benefit Analysis

More information

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