Copenhagen has been named one the most eco-friendly cities in the world due to its effort to reduce greenhouse gases and for taking on green and sustainable initiatives as the city aims to become the world’s first carbon-neutral capital by 2025.
According to The Guardian, Copenhagen intends to replace coal with biomass, to add more wind and solar electricity to the grid, to upgrade energy-guzzling buildings, and to lure even more residents onto bikes and public transit.
Initiatives such as these along with early instalment of reuse and recycling system in 1989 look very promising in reducing CO2 emissions and finally slowing down the damages of climate change. However, recycling at home can be quite the hassle, especially if you are a newcomer, so here are few tips on how can you get it done so our planet gets the most out of it.
Make the most out of the bins
Wheelie bins for paper, cardboard, plastic (soft and hard), metal, garden, and glass have been familiar to the Dane household, and in autumn 2017 biofuel has been added to the list as part of the plan to replace fossil fuels with bioenergy. Biofuel comes directly or indirectly from organic material- biomass, meaning fuel that comes from plant materials and animal waste.
Now, note that the amount of containers allowed depends on where you live (house, flat, outside the city or middle of the city) and how much space you have in your courtyard/garden/patio etc. Keep in mind that some apartment blocks in Copenhagen have limited space and are not well-designed for more than two bins. Based on this information the nemmaffaldsserive (easy-waste -service) will determine whether your place is eligible or not and if the lorry driver has easy access to the containers, otherwise, you or the caretaker of the building need to ensure that the containers are out in the street on collection day. Tenants can request and order new bins for free (waste fee is already included in your tax) on nemaffaldsservice or use the genbrugsplads (recycling stations) scattered around the city.
How to recycle
Don’t stress out if you don’t have all the containers. You can get creative and design your own DIY recycling sort out system at home. Use basic wooden crates and empty them in the nearest genbrugsplad (recycling stations).
Use only the biobags (soft and light green biodegradable bags) provided by the municipality. Remember to sort out the trash correctly before deposit it in corresponding bins. You can also order them for free online
Include: food waste (raw and cooked), rice, pasta, meat, fish, bones, bread, cakes,nuts, nutshells, sauce and oil fats, used kitchen roll, cut flowers, tea leaves and filters, coffee grounds and filters fruit and vegetables
Don’t include: food waste in packaging, land, animal litter or bedding (straw/hay), potted plants.
Note: if your biofuel is wet then use 2 bags and remember to tie the knot to minimize odor.
Save all the cans, soft drinks, water, and beer bottles that have a pant sticker and return them at the deposit-refund vending machines found at most supermarkets.
Include: dish soap, detergent, food containers, shampoo bottles, non-returnable plastic bottle, bowls made of plastic, plastic cutlery, toolbox made of plastic, plastic bags (vegetables, fish, meat) etc.
Don’t include: Packaging that has contained chemicals like printer cartridges, makeup, paint, file plastic binders, toothbrush and wash brush, PVC (rubber boots, credit cards, sport equipments) This all should be handed over to the recycling station.
Note: make sure plastic packaging with food residues is rinsed and cleaned and the food is separate in the biofuel container.
Save trees and avoid unnecessary magazines, newsletter and publicity ads delivered to your home. Request a no-thanks advertising sticker to add to your mailbox.
Include: envelopes, directories, books, office paper and wrapping paper.
Note: Do not mix cardboard and paper.
Use collection or recycling stations if you don’t have access to your own glass bin.
Include: all types of glass and bottles: whole bottles, drinking glasses, glass cuttings - both colored and clear glass. Lids can remain on the glasses.
Don’t include: Crystal glass because it contains lead and cannot be recycled with plain glass. Therefore it must be delivered to a recycling center.
Aluminium cans and other metal objects can be disposed at the nearest genbrugsplads (recycling station).
Include: Coffee and tea cans, food cans, metal candlesticks, paper baskets, curtain clips, pet bowls, metal potters, hammers, screwdriver, knife blades, door handles, metal hooks, pots/ dishes/ pans of metal.
Note: Food residues often develop bacteria and unhygienic conditions so make sure metal packaging with food residues is rinsed and cleaned and the food is separate in the biofuel container.
You can collect garden waste in paper trays, wheelbarrows or containers. If you use bags, make sure they are of paper. Do not use plastic or biodegradable bags and neither use plastic wire, stripes to bundles.
You can also compost your own garden and food waste at home, just order a compost bin between March and November at nemaffaldsservice. You can compost waste that doesn’t include animals product like fruits, vegetables, coffee grounds, teabags, nut shells, etc.
Careful with the odors!
Include: plants, parts of plants: (leaves, branches) and windfall fruit - note the container should not be too heavy.
Don’t include: large branches (max 120cm) and land.
Include: Kitchen & toilet roll paper, boxes from toothbrush, laundry powder, batterie, oatmeal, toys, Shoe boxes Postcard
Don’t Include: Packing peanuts, paper, pizza and other packaging with food residue and greasy leftovers must go in the dagrenovation (rest) bin found in the recycling center.
Every month Think.dk offers the Repair Café, a community run by volunteers that do their best to repair your broken items so you don’t have to throw them away and buy new ones and thus reduce your ecological footprint.
Include: items that are wired or powered by batteries, cell phones, charges, toys, Tv, freezers, cookers, washing machines, microwave ovens and other smaller kitchen appliances.
Note: Large goods like tv, stand lamps, washing machines etc it’s picked up separately by the Storskald (Large scale rubbish). Storskald come 4 times a year and here you can see where there is the pick up day near you.
Clothing and shoes can be either donated directly to charity stores or to the Red Cross but please make sure they are in good condition! otherwise, there are some bins scattered around the city where you can deposit them. Also, there are swap centers where people can bring and take things for free.
Note: If you still don’t know where an specific item should go then consult the Affalds ABC
What happens with your trash?
There are many different types of plastic: soft, hard, PVC and special products. Before soft and hard plastic could not be mixed but from May 2017 both hard (shampoo, drinking bottles) and soft plastic (plastic bags, bubble wrap and candy packaging) can now go in the same bin. The container is collected, cleaned, sorted and sent to the sorting facility in Alba in Braunschweig in Germany, where over 75% of the plastic is reused to make new products and the rest used for energy.
Paper & Cardboard
Paper is collected and sent to paper mills to be used for new paper products. As for cardboard, the container is transported to plants to produce new cardboard products. Cardboard fibre can be used several times.
Glass is normally cleaned and used again and wine bottles are cleaned and recycled by wine houses throughout Europe. Non-recyclable bottles or slices are melted and used to make new ones.
Garden waste can also be disposed at the different recycling stations if you don’t have access to your own bin. The container is collected and delivered to the recycling site to be composted and sold to gardeners and contactors.
Metal is melted at high temperature so make sure to rinse off food residues and clean it as good as possible because it can develop bacteria and unhygienic conditions. Afterward, the metal is melted and used to make new products.
The collected electronic items are sent to dismantling where it is separated. A large portion of the discarded electronic waste can be recycled - especially the metals. The other parts that are harmful to the environment are sorted for special treatment.
Biofuel is a great way to produce bioenergy. Biobags are wound up, pulped and the residual product is turned into biogas that generates electricity, heat, and fertilizers that contain important nutrients used in farm fields. Therefore when you use the biobags to separate your food waste (biofuel) in the bio container you are helping to produce bioenergy and thus reduce CO2 emissions that are responsible for 64% of climate change.
The links provided above are for the Copenhagen area only. For more info about recycling stations or collections points. Please contact your municipality or visit their website.