Skip to main content
19th European Roundtable on Sustainable Consumption and Production – Circular Europe for Sustainability: Design, Production and Consumption

Papers Proceedings »

Preparation for reuse in the Danish Waste Sector

Preparation for reuse in the Danish Waste Sector

Rikke Marie Moalem1, Arne Remmen2, Stig Hirsbak3

1Aalborg University of Copenhagen, Department of Planning, A.C.Meyersvaenge 15, 2450 Copenhagen, Denmark,

2Aalborg University of Copenhagen, Department of Planning, A.C.Meyersvaenge 15, 2450 Copenhagen, Denmark,

3Aalborg University of Copenhagen, Department of Planning, A.C.Meyersvaenge 15, 2450 Copenhagen, Denmark,

Abstract The Danish Waste Association recently stated, “Too many products that can still be used end up as waste” (Dansk Affaldsforening, 2018). Danish municipalities are obliged to adopt waste management plans in accordance with the rules, targets and the waste hierarchy in the framework established by the EU (EU, 2008).

However, even though waste prevention is the first priority, then in reality it has been the last priority for many years. For example, collection rates of waste fractions as KPI do not support prevention but recycling; prevention is not even included in the Danish Executive Order on Waste; even preparation for reuse is considered part of waste management instead of managing “used products”. In order words, several aspects of the current practices of waste management contradict the principles of the circular economy. This article set out to investigate how the principles from circular economy can give more attention to prevention and preparation for reuse as well as change the current Danish practices with most focus on recycling and incineration.

Through desk studies, site visits, conferences and dialogue meetings, our preliminary investigation has shown, that in order to prolong life of more products, which would otherwise end up as waste, Danish Municipal Waste Companies are increasingly initiating projects on reuse and establishing or expanding secondhand shops on their premises. Further, conducting experiments with the establishment of a “green channel” where visitors are guided on how to separate reusable products that can be sold in the store (MST, 2017). In order to prolong product life, more and more Danish public waste companies are now following the example.

This has created a debate concerning the legislation for municipal waste companies with reuse shops in which they sell items (direct reuse or prepared for reuse). DI has therefore contacted the Danish Appeals Board questioning: Are municipal recycling sites allowed to set up reuse shops? Claiming that municipalities have no legal authority to sell items delivered at the reuse center. Further DI questions whether products sold in the shops are in fact “waste” (Ankestyrelsen, 2017).

The answer received from the board was not that clear, leaving room for interpretation from both parties (Soja, 2018). For example, how to define “when does something become “waste”? and how this relates to “preparation for reuse” and “waste prevention”.

However, “waste” is a generic concept defined differently by authorities (national and international) (Pires et al, 2019). In the European Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC) waste is defined: Any substance or object which the holder discards or intends to discard or is required to discard. But how to determine when a person is in fact “discarding” an item? This is a good question because is an item “discarded” if citizens place the item in a special re-use container at the reuse center or is it not waste already at the moment the citizen deliver the item to the reuse center? (Soja, 2018)

The above challenges are leaving municipal waste companies to operate in a legislative “grey zone”, meaning they need to navigate within a framework, which is not clearly defined, even in the amendment in the circular waste package.

The purpose of this study is therefore to create better understanding of possible solutions that enable municipal waste companies to navigate in the two upper levels of the waste hierarchy; waste prevention and preparation for reuse, either alone or in cooperation with others.

This study will investigate municipal re-use initiatives in Denmark e.g. secondhand-shops and the establishment of “green channels”. Semi structured interviews with key actors from the municipal waste sector combined with on-site visits will indicate the existing practices, potentials and barriers for municipal re-use initiatives.

Keywords: Preparation for reuse, prevention, the waste hierarchy, circular economy, legislative framework [Maximum of five words]


Ankestyrelsen, 2017, Kommuners aktiviteter på genbrugsområdet, Sag nr. 2015 – 8125, Ankestyrelsen

Dansk Affaldsforening, 2018; Er der liv efter genbrugspladsen? Dansk Affaldsforening. Accessed 27. Jan 2019.

EU, 2008, Directive 2008/98/EC of the European parliament and of the council of 19 november 2008 on waste and repealing certain directives. Off. J. Eur. Union.

MST, 2017, Det grønne spor - en genvej til bedre ressourceudnyttelse på genbrugspladser. MST -770-00247 - Notat 2017.

Henriette Soja 2018, Temadag om reparation af hårde hvidevarer –AVV 5. december 2018 af Henriette Soja, Horten.

Pires et al, 2019, Sustainable Solid Waste Collection and Management, Chap.2 Prevention and Reuse: Waste Hierarchy Steps Before Waste Collection, Springer International Publishing AG, Springer

Rikke Marie Moalem
Aalborg University of Copenhagen

Arne Remmen
Aalborg University of Copenhagen

Stig Hirsbak
Aalborg University of Copenhagen


Powered by OpenConf®
Copyright ©2002-2018 Zakon Group LLC