Waste management

Development of the GreenREFORM sub-model for waste management and recycling is described below.

The model must be able to describe the role of the waste management sector and waste incinerator plants in energy supply and the associated emissions, given the significant amount of waste used for energy production. The EU has a goal that 70 pct. of waste must be recycled by 2030 and there are similar national goals in Denmark. For this reason, the sub-model must also be able to explain the extent to which waste is recycled in Denmark, such that the ‘circular economy’ is described. Additionally, the sub-model must be able to describe the effect of waste treatment on the emission of the most important pollutants.

The sorting of waste produced in Denmark is highly dependent on the quality of initial sorting, before the waste reaches waste management plants. The sub-model must therefore describe the cost for households and firms from sorting their waste. It must also describe the effect of changes to the regulation of waste sorting, including requirements for initial sorting, changes to the required recycling rate and changes to the amount of waste used in energy production, as well as the associated environmental effects of these changes.

Sub-model for waste management

As the basis for description of waste flows in the Danish economy, the waste management sub-model uses a dataset developed by Statistics Denmark based on the Danish Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Waste Statistics. This data describes the supply and demand for waste between sectors, including import and export, and the treatment of waste across a wide range of waste types.

The Danish EPA’s Waste Statistics only follows the waste until treatment. Data is therefore needed to explain what happens with the waste after it is treated. In cooperation with DTU, GreenREFORM is using the EASETECH-model for data regarding emission coefficients related to waste treatment, forecasts of waste generation and more.

The sub-model also requires further division of the waste management sector in the 117-sector version of the National Accounts. This means that the GreenREFORM waste management sub-model will have five waste management subsectors, instead of one combined sector. Dividing the waste management sector into subsectors will provide information about all activities that occur between waste management subsectors, as well as all activities that occur between these subsectors and the remaining sectors in the National Accounts.

Initial research has been done to understand the organization and regulation of the waste management sector. This research resulted in the following paper, which has been the basis for development of the waste management sub-model.

Paper about the organization of the waste management sector (in Danish)

A partial static model for waste management and recycling has currently been developed and will be described in an upcoming paper. The following is a brief summary of the model.

Based on a division of the National Accounts sector “383900 Waste management and materials recovery”, the sub-model describes production in the following five waste management subsectors:

  • 383901 Collection of non-dangerous and dangerous waste
  • 383902 Treatment and disposal of non-dangerous and dangerous waste
  • 383903 Disposal of waste for energy production
  • 383904 Recycling
  • 383905 Remediation of soil and groundwater and other forms of pollution control

The waste collection subsector (383901) collects all waste in the economy, after it is initially sorted by firms and households. Firms in the model pay a price for their waste to be collected and delivered to the waste treatment subsectors (383902-383905). Seen in isolation, the collection process gives a negative profit, due to the costs faced by waste collection firms when collecting waste and delivering it for treatment. However, since the waste collection firms operate under the break-even principle, the government ensures zero-profits through lump-sum transfers.All waste is delivered to the waste treatment subsectors (383902-383905), which also operate under the break-even principle. 

It is assumed in the model that all waste in principle can be incinerated, while not all waste can be recycled. Some quantity of “secondary waste” is therefore produced, which is either incinerated or stored as landfill. The quantity of secondary waste is currently unknown, although this can be analyzed using the EASETECH-model in cooperation with DTU. It is also an ambition, that emissions from the recycling process are added to the waste management sub-model. These emissions are important for the sub-model’s description of emissions from the waste treatment process and will be added later through the cooperation with DTU.

The following paper is a tentative working paper about the sub-model for waste management and recycling.

Paper about the sub-model for waste management and recycling