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  • Aasavari Joshi

Bornholm to Become a One-Stop for all Waste Reuse and Recycling

Imagine a world where everything currently regarded as waste actually had value and was no longer discarded. The regional municipality of Bornholm, a Danish island in the Baltic Sea, and BOFA, Bornholm's municipal waste management firm, are working together to realize their goal titled "Bornholm shows the way - without waste 2032." The overarching "Bright Green Island" strategy for Bornholm includes this waste management vision. A new green reality is aimed for by 2032, just 13 years from now. The waste system as we currently know it — based on bins for combustible waste and enormous furnaces for waste incineration — will no longer exist. Cotton swabs, chairs, and carpets won't be put in the incinerator anymore; instead, they'll be recycled or used in other projects.

Although Bornholm is an "isolated" island, Denmark is moving increasingly toward reducing and perhaps completely replacing incineration with other waste treatment techniques on the island. The nation aims to move away from its "passion for burning garbage," as Zero Waste Europe puts it. By the end of 2005, 29 waste-to-energy facilities had handled about 25 per cent of Denmark's total garbage production. According to Eurostat, 55% of the nation's municipal solid waste was burned in 2010, 42% was recycled, and 3% was dumped in landfills. The communal interest group for the garbage industry, Dansk Affaldsforening, also reported recycling rates of 69%, energy recovery rates of 27%, and landfilling rates of 4% in 2016. The import of combustible garbage was projected to increase to 400,000 tons that year.

The Danish Ministry of Energy, Supply, and Climate released a strategy in September 2016 called "Supply for the Future" that improved the conditions for waste incineration. It proposed giving businesses the power to choose where the combustible waste would be treated rather than leaving this decision up to the municipality. Therefore, cities collecting household waste are urged to seek a competitive and economic incineration offer. Additionally, waste incineration facilities run and maintained by municipalities must be converted into municipally-owned businesses that are managed according to market conditions. The strategy also suggests financial incentives for burning plastics by considering a different tax rate for burning plastic that has been separated from other materials.

By the end of 2024, manufacturers must take responsibility for ensuring that packaging from their products is recycled, following new EU regulations, and EU nations must recycle at least 65% of all packaging waste, measured by weight. Nestlé, BOFA, and the Danish Society for Nature Conservation (DSNC) are putting much effort into preparing for the legislation. The cooperation will investigate the viability of circular solutions for domestic plastic waste, introduce unique collection and recycling options for coffee capsules, and recycle plastic foils in supermarkets, all through Bornholm's demonstration initiatives.

To establish a circular economy that reuses and recycles plastic instead of incinerating it, towns and businesses must collaborate, according to DSNC. Chief Environmental Policy Advisor for DSNC, Mette Ranfelt, stated: "The partnership between BOFA and Nestlé is a paradigm for the development of Extended Producer Responsibility, where we must ensure that products like plastic packaging are created ethically so that the resources can be reused".

These goals aren't achievable yet as of now. For this to be achievable between now and 2032, several things must occur, according to BOFA manager Jens Hjul-Nielsen. "It's about better sorting, new and smarter technology treatments, and conversation with our users," he explains. We will require a lot of assistance when we begin the "Bornholm shows the way - without waste 2032′′ vision, both from the island's residents and the numerous visitors." Bornholm is a valuable location to acquire skills in the circular economy and the green transition, according to BOFA. The island's infrastructure is completely developed, and its population equals about 1% of all Danes. Therefore, knowledge and experience can be applied to initiatives in Denmark and other similar countries.

The world's first industrialized community without waste is being paved over by the joint private and public partnership and network known as Zero Waste Bornholm, which is built on the ideas of a circular economy. To test innovations and capabilities before launching innovative waste and resource solutions on the developing global market, collaborative partners are using the Island of Bornholm as a dynamic platform for innovation and co-creation.


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