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A half of Danes sort their waste unproperly

February 22nd, 2022

A study conducted by Analyse Danmark in 2021 has showed that almost a half of Danes have sorted their waste unproperly within the last month. It’s interesting because recycling is very important to many people. So, if you are slightly concerned about how the waste is supposed to be sorted, you are far from being the only one. Your concern might, however, be even bigger, leaving you in doubt about what waste solution is the right one. This is known as Wishcycling, and the term was used for the first time in 2018 when China introduced comprehensive restrictions to the import of different kinds of waste materials from abroad. The term ‘wishcycling’ means that you don’t sort your waste properly, while ‘wish’, at the same time, refers to your good intentions about it. However, wishcycling makes waste sorting more expensive because the additional resources must be deployed by the recycling sites to handle it. The message is therefore clear: should you have any doubts about where to throw the specific waste, throw it in a residual waste.

There are many myths about sorting of waste and let’s break the three of them.

Myth 1: The Refuse Disposal System mixes all the waste together anyway and uses it for the heat production. This myth has arisen for many different reasons. About 25 years ago there was namely a group of photo reporters from a news outlet who followed the waste collection truck which collected the organic and residual waste that day and mixed it together. Although it turned into a big story, it doesn’t really give a representative picture of the Danish Refuse Disposal System. The story was namely based on a single day material evidence, when the company had some operational problems. The other reason is that it perhaps may look like the waste collection truck is throwing the waste from different containers into the same place. Actually, it doesn’t because there are several separate containers in the garbage truck which are not visible from the outside.

Myth 2: My careful sorting of waste doesn’t help because everything is ruined if only one of my neighbors sorts the waste incorrectly. Not everything is ruined even though a single milk packaging is from time to time sorted unproperly. The right thing to do, of course, would be to sort it properly, but our waste sorting technology is very robust, which means that a couple of incorrect waste sortings will not ruin it all. Moreover, more comprehensive rules about the waste sorting are on the way which will make the waste sorting a lot more easier – for instance, it will be possible to sort discarded textiles.

Myth 3: Environmental- and climate issues should be solved globally. There is therefore no use of it if I, as an individual, sort the waste properly when the other countries do not make the same efforts to deal with it. A survey conducted by the World Economic Forum in the whole world has showed that as much as 84 of the survey respondents think that it is ‘extremely important or very important´ to recycle whenever possible. Out of the total number of respondents, 85 percent of them were from Western Europe, and 93 percent from Latin America.

The Environmental Protection Agency has launched a new website with the information about: a) how the waste should be sorted and b) how the waste is recycled. If you are curious about this, you can find more information on or read the full text of the article here.