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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‘We still have a chance’: Danish minister’s relief after Glasgow climate deal

Denmark's climate minister Dan Jørgensen has expressed relief that a meaningful climate change deal was struck in Glasgow last night, after a last minute move by India and China nearly knocked it off course.

'We still have a chance': Danish minister's relief after Glasgow climate deal
Denmark's climate minister Dan Jørgensen speaks at the announcement of the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance in Glasgow on Tuesday. Photo: Andy Buchanan/AFP/Ritzau Scanpix

“For the first time ever, coal and fossil fuel subsidies have been mentioned. I’m very, very happy about that,” he told Denmark’s Politiken newspaper. “But I am also very disappointed that the stronger formulations were removed at the last minute.” 

Late on Saturday, the world’s countries agreed the Glasgow Climate Pact, after negotiations dragged on while governments haggled over phasing out coal. 

Denmark is one of the countries leading the phase out of fossil fuels, formally launching the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA) with ten other countries and states at the Glasgow summit on Tuesday, announcing an end to oil exploration last December, and committing to phase out coal by 2030 back in 2017. 

Jørgensen conceded that the deal struck on Saturday was nowhere near far-reaching enough to keep global temperature rises below 1.5C, which scientists have estimated is critical to limiting the impacts of climate change, but he said the decision to hold another summit in Egypt next year meant that this goal could still be reached. 

“The big, good news is that we could have closed the door today. If we had followed the rules, we would only have had to update the climate plans in 2025, and the updates would only apply from 2030,” he said, adding that this would be too late. “Now we can fight on as early as next year. This is very rare under the auspices of the UN.” 

Limiting temperature rises to 1.5C was still possible, he said. 

“We have a chance. The framework is in place to make the right decisions. There was a risk that that framework would not be there.” 

Jørgensen said that he had come close to tears when India launched a last-minute bid to water down the language when it came to coal, putting the entire deal at risk. 

“It was all really about to fall to the ground,” he said. “The assessment was that either the Indians got that concession or there was no agreement.” 

Sebastian Mernild, a climate researcher at the University of Southern Denmark, said he was disappointed by the lack of binding targets and global deadlines in the plan, but said it was nonetheless “a step in the right direction”, particularly the requirement that signatories to the Paris Agreement must tighten their 2030 emissions reduction targets by the end of 2022.

“It’s good that this thing with fossil fuels has got in,” he added. “It’s a pity that you don’t have to phase them out, but only reduce.”

He said the test of whether the Glasgow meeting is a success or failure would not come until the various aspects of the plan are approved and implemented by members states.