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Managing Household Plastic Waste: Evaluation of the EU commission’s strategy from the perspective of Swedish municipalities

Henriksson, Tobias LU (2018) MVEM02 20181
Studies in Environmental Science
Abstract
In January of 2018, the EU commission presented a new strategy on how the EU will handle plastics in a circular economy. The strategy raises many of the issues the EU face with plastics and plastic waste today, presents several goals for 2030 in this field - such as a >50% recycling rate of plastic waste - and recommends measures the nations could take to improve their management of plastics and plastic waste. Sweden has for a long time worked closely with the sorting, collecting and recycling of household plastic waste, and is by 2016 already reaching recycling rates of 42.2%, in big part thanks to Sweden’s legally demanded extended producer responsibility. The question arose of how much the EU commission’s strategy will affect Sweden in... (More)
In January of 2018, the EU commission presented a new strategy on how the EU will handle plastics in a circular economy. The strategy raises many of the issues the EU face with plastics and plastic waste today, presents several goals for 2030 in this field - such as a >50% recycling rate of plastic waste - and recommends measures the nations could take to improve their management of plastics and plastic waste. Sweden has for a long time worked closely with the sorting, collecting and recycling of household plastic waste, and is by 2016 already reaching recycling rates of 42.2%, in big part thanks to Sweden’s legally demanded extended producer responsibility. The question arose of how much the EU commission’s strategy will affect Sweden in its work of sorting and collecting plastic waste. This study approaches this question by attempting to answer instead what the Swedish municipalities have already accomplished without the help of the EU commission’s strategy, what actions are being planned in future following this strategy, as well as what other measures had been taken previously when dealing with demands of sorted household waste to see if there are any methods that would be applicable to plastic waste. Additionally, looking beyond what the EU commission’s plastic strategy incorporates, it was also of interest to investigate which issues the Swedish municipalities see with bioplastics, as these are expected to take a bigger share of the plastic market in the coming future. Semi-structured qualitative interviews and questionnaires were performed and answered by 4 of Scania’s municipalities, and 8 of its waste management companies in order to answer these questions. From the results, Sweden has come far with its sorting and collecting of plastic waste due to implementing convenient measures for its citizen, such as access to household-proximate sorting, and four-compartment bins to single family households where they may sort their waste easily. An underlying motto “easy to do right” have been guiding the household waste sorting and collection thus far, together with information distribution to the citizens. The EU commission’s strategy was not deemed to have had an impact on the municipalities’ work regarding waste sorting and collecting so far, and was not expected to have a great impact in the future, primarily due to it not presenting any revolutionary demands or measures. The issues with bioplastics were related to biodegradable plastics, as these may contaminate other plastics in recycling due to being difficult to recycle. However, they were also deemed inappropriate to dispose of in nature or among organic waste, as it does not
6
degrade in these environments either, meaning that there is no good way to dispose of these plastics other than energy recovery. In the future, this issue may be solved by modern second-hand sorting of plastics in sorting facilities, together with second-hand recycling of residual waste, something which is currently not being done in Sweden. (Less)
Popular Abstract (Swedish)
I januari 2018 presenterade EU kommissionen en ny strategi om hur EU ska hantera plast i en cirkulär ekonomi. Strategin lyfter många av de problem som EU måste hantera med plast och plastavfall idag, presenterar flera mål till 2030 i detta området - till exempel en >50% återvinningsgrad av plastavfall - och rekommenderar åtgärder som kan införas av nationerna för att förbättra deras hantering av plast och plastavfall. Sverige har under en lång tid arbetat med utsorteringen, insamlingen och återvinningen av plastavfall, och har vid 2016 redan nått en återvinningsgrad av 42.2%, mycket tack vare Sveriges utökade producentansvar. Frågan framkom om hur mycket EU kommissionens plaststrategi kommer att påverka Sverige i dess arbete att utsortera... (More)
I januari 2018 presenterade EU kommissionen en ny strategi om hur EU ska hantera plast i en cirkulär ekonomi. Strategin lyfter många av de problem som EU måste hantera med plast och plastavfall idag, presenterar flera mål till 2030 i detta området - till exempel en >50% återvinningsgrad av plastavfall - och rekommenderar åtgärder som kan införas av nationerna för att förbättra deras hantering av plast och plastavfall. Sverige har under en lång tid arbetat med utsorteringen, insamlingen och återvinningen av plastavfall, och har vid 2016 redan nått en återvinningsgrad av 42.2%, mycket tack vare Sveriges utökade producentansvar. Frågan framkom om hur mycket EU kommissionens plaststrategi kommer att påverka Sverige i dess arbete att utsortera och samla in plastavfall. Denna studie närmar sig denna fråga genom att istället försöka svara på vad Sveriges kommuner redan har gjort utan hjälp av EU kommissionens strategi, vilka åtgärder som planeras utefter strategin, och även vilka åtgärder som utförts tidigare när man hanterade krav på sorterat hushållsavfall för att se ifall det finns metoder som även är relevanta för plastavfall. Dessutom, utöver vad som EU kommissionens strategi innefattar, var det även av intresse att undersöka vilka problem de svenska kommunerna ser med bioplaster, eftersom dessa förväntas ta en större andel av plastmarknaden i den nära framtiden. Semistrukturerade kvalitativa intervjuer och frågeformulär utfördes och besvarades av 4 av Skånes kommuner och 8 av dess renhållningsbolag för att få svar till dessa frågorna. Utifrån resultaten har Sverige kommit långt med utsorteringen och insamlingen av plastavfall tack vare implementeringen av bekväma åtgärder åt dess invånare, till exempel tillgång till hushållsnära insamling och fyrfackskärl till villor där hushållen kan enkelt sortera på fastigheten. Ett underliggande motto av “lätt att göra rätt” har genomsyrat hushållens utsorteringen och insamlingen hittills, tillsammans med informationsutdelning till invånarna. EU kommissionens strategi bedömdes ej ha en större påverkan på kommunernas arbete angående avfallssortering- och insamling hittills, och förväntades inte ha det i framtiden eftersom den inte presenterade några revolutionerande krav eller åtgärder. Problematiken med bioplaster var
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relaterade till de nedbrytbara plasterna, eftersom dessa förorenade annan plast i återvinning då de själva är svåra att återvinna. De ansågs även ej passande att slänga dem i naturen eller bland organiskt avfall, eftersom de inte bryts ned i dessa miljöer, vilket leder till att det inte finns något bra sätt att göra sig av med dessa utöver energiåtervinning. I framtiden kan dessa problem lösas av modern andrahandssortering i utsorteringsanläggningar, tillsammans med andrahandssortering av övrigt restavfall, något som inte utförs idag. (Less)
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author
Henriksson, Tobias LU
supervisor
organization
course
MVEM02 20181
year
type
H1 - Master's Degree (One Year)
subject
keywords
plastics, waste, plastic waste, waste management, recycling, circular economy, sweden, scania, skåne, EU, strategy, 2030, municipality, municipalities, interview
language
English
id
8947095
date added to LUP
2018-06-11 16:45:30
date last changed
2018-06-11 16:45:30
@misc{8947095,
  abstract     = {In January of 2018, the EU commission presented a new strategy on how the EU will handle plastics in a circular economy. The strategy raises many of the issues the EU face with plastics and plastic waste today, presents several goals for 2030 in this field - such as a >50% recycling rate of plastic waste - and recommends measures the nations could take to improve their management of plastics and plastic waste. Sweden has for a long time worked closely with the sorting, collecting and recycling of household plastic waste, and is by 2016 already reaching recycling rates of 42.2%, in big part thanks to Sweden’s legally demanded extended producer responsibility. The question arose of how much the EU commission’s strategy will affect Sweden in its work of sorting and collecting plastic waste. This study approaches this question by attempting to answer instead what the Swedish municipalities have already accomplished without the help of the EU commission’s strategy, what actions are being planned in future following this strategy, as well as what other measures had been taken previously when dealing with demands of sorted household waste to see if there are any methods that would be applicable to plastic waste. Additionally, looking beyond what the EU commission’s plastic strategy incorporates, it was also of interest to investigate which issues the Swedish municipalities see with bioplastics, as these are expected to take a bigger share of the plastic market in the coming future. Semi-structured qualitative interviews and questionnaires were performed and answered by 4 of Scania’s municipalities, and 8 of its waste management companies in order to answer these questions. From the results, Sweden has come far with its sorting and collecting of plastic waste due to implementing convenient measures for its citizen, such as access to household-proximate sorting, and four-compartment bins to single family households where they may sort their waste easily. An underlying motto “easy to do right” have been guiding the household waste sorting and collection thus far, together with information distribution to the citizens. The EU commission’s strategy was not deemed to have had an impact on the municipalities’ work regarding waste sorting and collecting so far, and was not expected to have a great impact in the future, primarily due to it not presenting any revolutionary demands or measures. The issues with bioplastics were related to biodegradable plastics, as these may contaminate other plastics in recycling due to being difficult to recycle. However, they were also deemed inappropriate to dispose of in nature or among organic waste, as it does not
6
degrade in these environments either, meaning that there is no good way to dispose of these plastics other than energy recovery. In the future, this issue may be solved by modern second-hand sorting of plastics in sorting facilities, together with second-hand recycling of residual waste, something which is currently not being done in Sweden.},
  author       = {Henriksson, Tobias},
  keyword      = {plastics,waste,plastic waste,waste management,recycling,circular economy,sweden,scania,skåne,EU,strategy,2030,municipality,municipalities,interview},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Managing Household Plastic Waste: Evaluation of the EU commission’s strategy from the perspective of Swedish municipalities},
  year         = {2018},
}