Government launches new recycling targets

New initiatives will make it easier for Danes and businesses to recycle more of their organic and electronic waste

More waste should be recycled and less burned for energy and heating according to the Environment Ministry's new recycling strategy, which was released today. 

Denmark currently ranks eighth in the EU in terms of the share of waste that is recycled, 42 percent. But Denmark is the EU leader in burning waste for energy and heat – 55 percent of waste is used for this purpose. The environment minister, Ida Auken (Socialistisk Folkeparti), argues that burning all this trash amounts to a waste of resources.

“Rubbish is full of value that we currently just burn,” Auken told DR Nyheder.” And that doesn’t make any sense in a world where the battle for resources is getting tougher and tougher. That’s why we are changing our approach to trash so that we burn less and reuse more.”

READ MORE: Denmark's carbon bomb

Waste going to waste
The government has set aside 200 million kroner to support the development of new recycling technology and assist councils in implementing new recycling initiatives.

Among the goals is for households to increase the amount of organic waste they recycle from 22 percent to 50 percent by 2022.

The government has set even more ambitious goals for the service sector which must increase the amount of organic waste it recycles by 2018 from 17 to 60 percent.

“We need to stop seeing rubbish as something we just throw away and burn,” Auken said. “Instead we need to learn to exploit the values and resources we have. We need to make biogas out of household waste, fertiliser from waste water and new metals from electronics.”

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Better waste sorting
The government’s main ambition is to make it easier for households and businesses to recycle waste by providing more sorting bins.

It also wants households to recycle more of their electronic waste such as discarded mobile phones which, on average, contains around 18 kroner's worth of gold, silver and copper.

These metals can easily be recycled, while food waste can be turned into fertilisers or biogas that can fuel buses.

READ MORE: Refund system for electronic waste proposed

The strategy for improving recycling will be turned into specific legislature that will be presented to parliament next month.

This will be followed up by a strategy for reducing rubbish that will focus on reducing waste using technology, better design and new business models.