Waste collection systems for recyclables: an environmental and economic assessment for the municipality of Aarhus (Denmark).Waste Manag. 2010 May; 30(5):744-54.WM
Recycling of paper and glass from household waste is an integrated part of waste management in Denmark, however, increased recycling is a legislative target. The questions are: how much more can the recycling rate be increased through improvements of collection schemes when organisational and technical limitations are respected, and what will the environmental and economic consequences be? This was investigated in a case study of a municipal waste management system. Five scenarios with alternative collection systems for recyclables (paper, glass, metal and plastic packaging) were assessed by means of a life cycle assessment and an assessment of the municipality's costs. Kerbside collection would provide the highest recycling rate, 31% compared to 25% in the baseline scenario, but bring schemes with drop-off containers would also be a reasonable solution. Collection of recyclables at recycling centres was not recommendable because the recycling rate would decrease to 20%. In general, the results showed that enhancing recycling and avoiding incineration was recommendable because the environmental performance was improved in several impact categories. The municipal costs for collection and treatment of waste were reduced with increasing recycling, mainly because the high cost for incineration was avoided. However, solutions for mitigation of air pollution caused by increased collection and transport should be sought.