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WasteIndustrial 
WasteSewageGlobal EffortsRecycle NowRelated Resources

Global Efforts

Many cities around the world are beginning to develop and implement "sustainability" projects. These projects typically include strategies for reducing waste, often by using waste as raw material for building homes, generating energy, or nourishing crops, for example. One effective waste-management program can be found in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Managing Urban Waste: Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen has developed a comprehensive program for managing urban waste. The goals of the program are ambitious:

  • 58 percent of the city's household, commercial, and industrial waste is to be recycled
  • 24 percent is to be incinerated
  • 18 percent is to be deposited in a landfill

Danish municipalities have the authority to regulate all waste generated by their local commercial, construction/demolition, and industrial sectors. Throughout the 1980s, they exercised this authority mainly by requiring that waste producers to pay a tax for waste disposal. The waste was shipped to centralized sorting plant; often the wastes would mix during shipment, making the sorting process difficult.

To increase the impact of the waste-management system, the Copenhagen City Council adopted new regulations in 1991 requiring that waste producers separate all waste at the source of generation. Hazardous waste must be separated from waste meant for incinerators or landfills and must be either recycled or treated at specialized facilities. In addition, waste generators are required to reduce the volume of waste sent to incinerators or landfills by introducing new technologies, processes, or recycling measures.

As a result of these regulations, the number of landfills in use has been reduced from 30 to 3. Today more than 50 percent of the city's commercial, industrial, and demolition waste is recycled. Furthermore, about 50,000 tons of combustible waste, previously deposited in landfills, are now incinerated in plants that convert waste to energy.

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