What you need to know about sustainably scrapping white goods in Denmark

White goods or domestic appliance are relatively easy to put out for recycling in Denmark, but there are a few important things to know.

What you need to know about sustainably scrapping white goods in Denmark
There are a few things worth knowing if you want to minimise the imprint of your outgoing dishwasher or refrigerator in Denmark.Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix

Domestic appliances (hårde hvidevarer in Danish) such as washing machines, dishwasher or refridgerators – can normally be scrapped by dropping them off at municipal junkyards (lossepladser).

In some residential areas appliances can also be left at designated areas for large household waste (storskrald) collection. These are often fenced off and locked and can only be accessed by people who living in the connected housing, for example in apartments managed by housing associations (boligforeninger).

At these locations, there will normally be containers or signs showing where other types of waste can be left for collection, such as cardboard, metal and fabrics.

It is important that cables are not cut off or otherwise removed from appliances before they are dumped.

Many appliances which are otherwise recyclable cannot be reused because their cables have been cut off, according to Elretur, a producer responsibility organisation. An analysis conducted by Econet on behalf of the organisation found a large number of appliances were not being efficiently reused for this reason.

As many as 12 percent of domestic appliances cannot be reused for this reason.

That is because once the cables have been removed, the product cannot be renovated and prepared for resale on the second-hand market. That means it enters the waste system instead of being recycled.

“Products without a power cable, because it has been cut off, cannot be reused and are therefore lost to the circular economy,” Elretur director Morten Harboe-Jepsen told news wire Ritzau.

The Environmental Protection Agency, which comes under the Danish Ministry of Environment, says that around 500 tonnes of power cables find their way to the wrong municipal waste containers annually due to incorrect sorting.

“One of the (problems) is that people are often misinformed that the cable must be sorted into a different category than where you leave out your domestic appliances,” Harboe-Jepsen said.

“That makes some people cut off the cables under the conviction that this is the right thing to do. But it isn’t (correct),” he added.

As such, the organisation was keen to spread the message about leaving the cables attached, he explained.

“The products left out for scrap should be kept as complete as possible for as long as possible so we have a chance of sorting them into ones that can be returned to the market through reparation,” he said.

READ ALSO: Denmark throws away too much plastic, recycling could save millions: report

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KEY POINTS: Why is Sweden planning to cull half its wolf population?

Sweden's government has announced that it will allow a major wolf cull this year, with hunters licensed to kill as many as half of the estimated 400 animals in the country. What is going on?

KEY POINTS: Why is Sweden planning to cull half its wolf population?

How many wolves are there in Sweden? 

Wolves were extinct in Sweden by the mid-1880s, but a few wolves came over the Finnish border in the 1980s, reestablishing a population.  

There are currently 480 wolves living in an estimated 40 packs between Sweden and Norway, with the vast majority — about 400 — in central Sweden. 

How many wolves should there be? 

The Swedish parliament voted in 2013, however, for the population to be kept at between 170 to 270 individuals, with the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency then reporting to the EU that Sweden would aim to keep the population at about 270 individuals to meet the EU’s Habitats Directive. 

In 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency was commissioned by the government to update the analysis,  and make a new assessment of the reference value for the wolf’s population size. It then ruled in a report the population should be maintained at about 300 individuals in order to ensure a “favourable conservation status and to be viable in the long term”. 

What’s changed now? 

Sweden’s right-wing opposition last week voted that the target number should be reduced to 170 individuals, right at the bottom of the range agreed under EU laws. With the Moderate, Christian Democrat, Centre, and Sweden Democrats all voting in favour, the statement won a majority of MPs.

“Based on the premise that the Scandinavian wolf population should not consist of more than 230 individuals, Sweden should take responsibility for its part and thus be in the lower range of the reference value,” the Environment and Agriculture Committee wrote in a statement.

Why is it a political issue? 

Wolf culling is an almost totemic issue for many people who live in the Swedish countryside, with farmers often complaining about wolves killing livestock, and hunters wanting higher numbers of licenses to be issued to kill wolves. 

Opponents of high wolf culls complain of an irrational varghat, or “wolf hate” among country people, and point to the fact that farmers in countries such as Spain manage to coexist with a much higher wolf population. 

So what has the government done? 

Even though the ruling Social Democrats voted against the opposition’s proposal, Rural Affairs Minister Anna-Caren Sätherberg agreed that the wolf population needed to be culled more heavily than in recent years. As a result, the government has asked the Environmental Protection Agency to once again reassess how many wolves there should be in the country. 

“We see that the wolf population is growing every year and with this cull, we want to ensure that we can get down to the goal set by parliament,” Sätherberg told the public broadcaster SVT.

Sweden would still meet its EU obligations on protecting endangered species, she added, although she said she understood country people “who live where wolves are, who feel social anxiety, and those who have livestock and have been affected”.