New waste sorting system in Lighthouse City Sonderborg.

New waste sorting system in Lighthouse City Sonderborg

11 Feb 2021

The SmartEnCity project partner, Sonderborg supply (Sønderborg Forsyning), is ready with a new waste system. Sonderborg is the Denmark’s first municipality in sorting into 10 fractions. The goal is to recycle 50% of household waste by 2022.

Sønderborg Forsyning is a key partner in the ProjectZero partnership and in the demo activities within the framework of the SmartEnCity project. Sønderborg Forsyning is doing its part to help realize the vision of a CO2-neutral Sonderborg area by 2029.

Now all citizens in the municipality have to sort their waste in a new way that meets the government's environmental requirements: to sort household waste into 10 fractions. The goal is to recycle 50% of household waste by 2022. Recycling is currently at 37.2%. EU targets aim for 55% recycling by 2025.

Sonderborg is a pioneer municipality in recycling

Sonderborg will be the first municipality in the country to get started with the 10 fraction sorting of waste. Sonderborg supply is very proud to contribute to this initiative: “We have found out the pictogram for milk cartons ourselves. 9 municipalities on Zealand are interested. They believe it should be done nationwide. This is a big step forward”, says communications employee Minna Hallberg, Sønderborg Forsyning.

The new system makes sorting simpler: “You have to sort by material. When you can not identify it or are in doubt, then there is residual waste. It's that simple,” says employee Mette La Cour.

On Sønderborg Forsyning's website, there is a "sorting guide" with over 400 different materials and objects that you can search for and see how they should be sorted. "New materials and objects are constantly being added, that is why we have to update our website all the time,” explains Minna.

Those citizens who are not "online" can get to know a great deal if they use the supply information material that was distributed to households. Here is a very detailed leaflet with sorting instructions, stickers and an easy-to-understand overview.

New is also that all fractions are marked with a specific colour, eg turquoise for glass, black for residual waste.“ On the handles of the containers markings for the visually impaired are set up so they can too feel the difference. It has been developed with the help of the Danish Society for the Blind”, says Minna.

Easier and more logical sorting

Citizens can also rejoice that you no longer have to sort plastic into soft and hard plastic and that glass no longer has to be cleaned. "Glass is a wonderful material", thinks Minna. But not all glass can be recycled. This applies to tempered glass such as drinking glasses or ovenproof dishes, which affect the melting process in a negative direction. 

Paper and cardboard are collected as before in a container. The only requirement is that it must be dry and clean, otherwise it is residual waste (such as kitchen roll with leftover food or dirty pizza boxes). In this container there is also space for gift wrapping waste without gift ribbons. "Gift ribbons are residual waste because they consist of different materials", Minna emphasizes.

The food leftovers must feed the biogas production

Brand new is the collection of leftover food, which is to be included in the biogas production. "Sorting requires a change", Minna is sure. In 2018, there were two experimental areas in the municipality where households were given a bin for this purpose. The utility company ordered 10,000 bins for the 37,000 households in the municipality.

It will also be a change, says Minna thinking about the milk cartons. They must be reused and thrown into the plastic section.

New is also the environmental bin for hazardous waste such as spray cans, medicine residues (needles must be in special needle bins, which are available at the pharmacy). Batteries and light bulbs must be packed in a bag because they can emit dangerous substances.

Unsolved is (so far) collection of textiles. Maybe a bag will be handed out, which the citizens can put on one of the recycling bins.

Circular economy from nursery to PhD to households

Sønderborg Forsyning also thinks of the younger generation. Mette is a facilitator at Sønderborg Forsyningscenter, the communication center, Sonforce, where all the municipality's school children can become inspired and informed about waste and recycling. Currently it is unfortunately closed due to COVID-19.

In the coming days, a children's book about Ingrid and August will be printed for day care institutions. The book has the same pictograms as the folder for households.

The leaflet for households was first printed in 28,000 copies for detached houses, and more are coming. 13,000 copies have been printed for the housing associations. It is also available in German and Danish.

Sønderborg Forsyning is also in dialogue with residents in apartment blocks which had to be cancelled due to COVID-19.

New garbage trucks

New electric and gas-powered garbage trucks are in use. This avoids both noise and the climate-damaging CO2 emissions, "a huge step", Minna assesses about the green way of transportation.

Original article written in Danish by Ruth Nielsen can be found here.