Better incentives needed for recycling, council agrees

Residents complain after change to pricing model for trash removal eliminates economic incentive to increase recycling and reduce waste

June 4th, 2012 4:21 pm| by admin
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The City Council has agreed with housing associations who are arguing that households need better economic incentives to increase their recycling.

The calls were made after a change in the pricing structure for collecting trash by the council removed the economic incentive for housing associations to sort their rubbish.

The pricing structure changed after the environmental protection agency Miljøstyrelsen decided that business waste and household waste should be separated.

As a result, the council changed the way housing associations were charged for removing their trash. Instead of charging according to weight, housing associations were instead charged by the number of apartments they occupied.

This was a disappointment for housing association Rødegård in Copenhagen, which had managed to reduce their waste bill by 11,000 kroner a year by sorting more recyclables – particularly cardboard – from their waste.

After the rule change, however, the 123-building housing association was forced to pay an extra 54,000 kroner a year, a cost that was passed on to residents.

Reducing household waste and increasing recycling is one of the initiatives that the City Council has said that residents can do in order to do their part reduce CO2 emissions. But members of the housing association say that appealing to Copenhageners' wallets was the best way to reduce waste.

“There needs to be more direct economic incentives so that you get lower prices for throwing less into the rubbish containers,” Rødegård resident Henrik Mathiasen told Politiken.

Copenhagen’s deputy mayor for technical and environmental affairs, Ayfer Baykal (Socialistisk Folkeparti), agreed with the criticism. She has now asked Miljøstyrelsen to make it easier for cities such as Copenhagen to have trash pricing systems that encourage greater recycling.

“It’s clear that economic incentives make a difference when we need businesses, housing associations, and private home owners to go along with our efforts to increase the sorting of waste,” Baykal told Politiken.

Increased sorting of rubbish is one of the initiatives that is being promoted to help Copenhagen become CO2 neutral by 2025.

“Copenhageners need to do their part to reduce CO2 emissions by becoming better at sorting and thereby reusing their rubbish," the City Council wrote in May when it released the plan.

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