Through this column, I share with you my approach to embracing green habits and a sustainable lifestyle by taking small steps.
This time let’s look at the fourth of the 5 Rs (Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot), and how we can recycle smarter – especially in Denmark.
I hope that this column helps new expats in Copenhagen to understand the recycling system here and how we can be part of the solution to the waste problem.
Recycling helps us with the transition from a linear economy to a circular economy. A linear economy is when raw materials are used in production and after using the end product it is thrown away as waste.
In a circular economy, materials are recycled according to their need to be used again as raw material for production. Recycling is great here, as many materials such as glass and aluminum are almost infinitely recyclable, to produce new glass and cans, instead of depleting virgin material reserves.
Furthermore, recycling diverts waste from being dumped in nature or burning away valuable recyclable material, and involves a reduced consumption of energy, CO2 and wastewater emissions compared to production with new materials.
You are in the right place!
To begin with, we are fortunate to live in a country where there are systems for efficient recycling. I have to mention this as, unlike many other low waste practices, there is a limit to what we can do as individuals with recycling.
Recycling requires a systematic collection of sorted waste, recycling facilities where the materials are melted so that new products can be made from them, and a well-established and profitable waste market.
And there are many ways in which Denmark makes it easier for us (see fact box).
There are few habits we can make as individuals to help the system recycle better.
First and foremost, you need to understand the different waste fractions (classifications) and educate yourself on which trash can to put your recycled material in, which ones to clean and what to separate (according to the municipality’s council).
Set up a dedicated system at home for sorting waste. This may require many small bins and also some initiative. At home, we gather all our smaller pieces of tinfoil together so that they do not get lost along the way, but end up being recycled (yes, they crush those Easter egg foil covers together).
See the labels as most explain how to dispose responsibly. A good example is packages with chips / chips, which clearly indicate whether the package should be sorted as plastic or residual waste.
Let’s try to understand the recycling systems better so we can be part of the solution.
Check out the @greenbyhabit guides on Instagram for short videos and fun scrolls that discuss these topics in detail and more about what can be recycled and what can’t.
Make recycling easier
Education – most municipalities (municipalities) are good at informing people about the different waste fractions to be sorted. Go to your municipality’s website and search for ‘waste sorting’. You can even download or print manuals.
Recycling station Larger pieces of waste (let’s say a large piece of concrete or ceramic from the toilet) can be disposed of at recycling stations. You can even drive in.
Exchange stations – did you know that some municipalities have ‘Exchange Station’ – exchange stations where you can just go in with the things you want to exchange (such as furniture, toys, etc.) and pick up new ones? Check ‘kbh.deler’.
Deposit system – Hopefully you are aware of the Danish return system. When you buy bottles or cans with the trouser sign, you pay a little extra as a deposit, which you get back when returning the empty tub. This is a great way to make sure the packaging that leaves the system returns and we close the loop. In 2021, the system’s return rate was 92 percent, which is one of the highest in the world.
Source: The Nordic Page