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Denmark to retreat as incineration ‘champion’?

Denmark – Denmark’s environment minister Ida Auken has announced a new strategy that is set to change the nation’s priority from incineration to recycling. ‘That is a paradigm shift for Denmark because, so far, we have been the world champions of waste incineration,’ Auken has told the ‘Politiken’ newspaper.

Nearly 50% of Denmark’s household waste is burned at ‘highly efficient’ incinerator plants that convert waste into energy for residential electricity and heat. However, carbon dioxide emission levels are exceeding the goals set by the Kyoto Protocol.

Auken will present a pro-recycling strategy in a few weeks that calls for households to sort their waste into several bins rather than sending the majority of it to the incinerator. ‘Recycling should be common sense and come to us naturally,’ the environment minister declared. ‘Danes will have to sort more of their waste. The goal is definitely to recycle more and incinerate less.’

Dakofa, an organisation comprising 244 waste management companies, believes the ‘ideal arrangement’ would be to provide separate waste ‘cans’ for incineration and for waste that is unsuitable for burning. ‘In general, people will have to meet more demands,’ says its head Morten Petersen. ‘In the beginning, they may have to pay for the rubbish cans themselves, but there can also be a positive economic outcome if we use the materials better.’

It is yet unclear how much will be invested in increased waste sorting. While not giving any specifics, Auken said 10 waste sorting trials had already reduced associated costs.

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