Waste as a resource

Water and Waste

Waste has previously been perceived as a problem, but is now in-creasingly becoming a valuable and demanded resource. Regulation of the waste sector should help to promote development of green solutions for waste treatment in order to use waste smarter and more sustainably.

In 2019, the Danish waste sector emitted 3.3 million tonnes of CO2e. Reducing these emissions will contribute to meeting the Danish target of a 70 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 (compared to 1990 levels).

To reduce emissions from the waste sector, it is necessary to lower the amount of waste and increase the reuse and recycling of products. In this way, waste can become a valuable resource to society instead of a problem. Getting to this point requires the adaption of new solutions and technologies in the waste sector along with a new supportive regulatory framework that promotes a more circular economy.

The climate plans sets the future framework

In June 2020, the Danish government and a broad coalition of parties from the Danish parliament adopted the Climate Plan for a green waste sector and circular economy. The plan presents a new regulatory framework that reorganises the Danish waste sector by 1) increasing the amount of waste for recycling, 2) enhancing the role of the private sector and incentivising the development of new technologies, and 3) reducing the capacity of Danish incineration plants. When implemented, the Climate Plan is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 0.7 million tonnes of CO2e in 2030. The overall vision of the Climate Plan is to have a climate neutral waste sector and to reduce the amount of waste generated in 2030.

Key initiatives from the Climate Plan are:

  • Harmonise and increase sorting of waste for recycling: households and companies are to sort in 10 waste fractions.
  • A strong recycling sector: private companies get access to recyclable waste from households.
  • 60 percent of actual recycling from collected plastic waste are required.
  • Reducing the waste incineration capacity to expected Danish waste volumes in 2030 limiting the amount of imported waste.
  • Development of an energy- and climate-neutral water sector, where limit values are introduced for the water treatment plants' nitrous oxide emissions.

In addition, the Climate agreement for energy and industry from June 2020 provides additional initiatives to support a climate neutral waste sector in 2030:

  • 16 billion DKK have been allocated from 2024-2044 to support investments in carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS) across the economy.
  • A reduction of HFC gases through levy increases.

With these initiatives, the waste sector is expected to emit 1.75 million tonnes of CO2e in 2030. To attain the visions of a climate neutral waste sector in 2030 and the transition to a more circular economy, the Climate Plan for a green waste sector a circular economy presents additional developmental initiatives that include:

  • Analyses of initiatives to reduce emissions from landfills and garden waste.
  • Allocation of 700 million DKK to four green research missions, where one of the missions target the development of new solutions and technologies for a circular economy, specifically focusing on plastics and textiles.
  • Investigating the possibility of introducing a uniform CO2e tax on Danish emissions, including emissions from waste that is incinerated. An expert group consisting of independent experts prepare proposals on how to design a uniform CO2e tax.
  • Presenting a strategy for the use of carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS).

Based on these initiatives, the government will present a proposal in 2023 on the way to a climate neutral waste sector and circular economy.

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