Waste has never before received the attention it gets today. The ever-increasing part of waste is being collected, sorted, recycled, and reused in our society. Let me give you some examples of how waste is handled to get the most out of it and maybe give you inspiration as how to handle your own waste. As the saying goes; “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”.
Waste is new treasures and materials
First things first. The waste needs to be sorted into categories to get the most out of it. The municipality of Copenhagen and its citizens are sorting its trash into eleven fractions. For example, the organic waste is reused as fertilizer and biogas which fuel our busses. Plastic, metal, and glass are sorted and remade into new products. Especially plastic bottles are having a special place in Denmark through the “Pant” system, but more on that in a later blogpost. Another concept is “Freecycle” where people can give what they have and take what they need; books, clothing and so on are directly reused from citizen to citizen.
Especially freecycle is a concept receiving extra attention. Small trading stations and markets are popping up all around Copenhagen. In these stations you can freely donate and collect various items. There are even stations where you donate to charity organizations that resell the items for profit which goes to the organization. A great way to turn you old chair into a charitable course.
Official recycling stations – Sydhavn Genbrugscenter
During Corona and the voluntary isolation, people have spent more time at home doing projects on their house, like fixing the garden, repainting the apartment and other tasks. And of course this leads to larger quantities of waste that can’t go into the bin. These trash products end up in places like larger outdoor recycling centers such as “Sydhavn Genbrugscenter”. This new recycling center is itself created with sustainability in mind. The construction is partly made from 5000 ton recycled concrete from an old incinerator chimney and recycled wood. Once you enter the center you will meet the employees that help identify the 35 different waste fragments the center has, with a keen eye on items that may be directly reused in one of their many workshops. On top of helping citizens with their waste management, the center also help educate the next generation on how important the sorting of waste is as well as ways of reusing it. They have focus on circular economy and upcycling which means that you might be able to use one material for a new purpose. Green Bike Tours is collaborating with Sydhavn Genbrugscenter and a visit and workshop is part of our interesting list of visits.
The center has educational rooms for primary school children where different topics are taught to increase their knowledge about waste, such as the waste’s travel, materials and reuse.
Waste to energy
One of the last resorts in handling the everyday waste is to transform it into pure energy, and of course Copenhagen is utilizing its waste as environmentally friendly as possible. The every-day trash in Copenhagen goes to ARC or Copenhill, which is one of the cleanest waste incinerators in the world and opened in Copenhagen in 2017. It’s so clean that the smoke that daily rises from the chimney consists of purely hot water steam.
The incinerator receives waste from 600.000 citizens and 68.000 companies, equivalent to 250 – 300 trucks fully loaded with waste daily. The waste is producing clean electricity and district heating to the five surrounding municipalities, including Copenhagen. Even the ashes from the incinerator is reused. The ash is cleaned from different toxic materials and the metal is extracted and reused. The leftovers are used as a chalk replacement in other industries which helps them being more environmentally friendly than before.
Interested in learning more about waste, circular economy and upcycling and experiencing it first hand – book a bike tour with us or a visit. Check out our website for inspiration: www.greenbiketours.org
Written by green guide Victor Maahr