Organic waste recycling – how, what and why

Everything you need to know about Copenhagen's new organic recycling programme

Why are Copenhagen residents now recycling organic waste?

Copenhagen City Hall decided to sort organic household waste in September 2016, after 78 percent of city residents responded in a survey that they want to sort and recycle organic material if it is possible.

The programme began its rollout in August 2017, and it will take four months before all 280,000 households are equipped with the green tubs and bags for recycling organic waste. 20,000 houses can sign up to the scheme too.

Organic waste accounts for 40 percent of all household waste. An average home produces 3.5 kilograms of organic waste every week. 57,000 tons of organic waste is produced in Copenhagen every year.

READ MORE: Green is the new black

Copenhagen City Hall has set a target that by 2018, 45 percent of recyclable household waste must be sorted. In February 2017, that number was 37 percent.

When organic waste is unloaded at the receiving facility, it will be mashed together to break up the waste bags. It is then mixed with wood chips and converted into biogas. When no more biogas can be extracted, composting starts.  The biogas is used to produce electricity and heat, and to power busses, while the compost is used in agriculture.

How do I recycle organic waste?

Organic waste must be collected in the accompanying BIO bags, which are made of cornstarch and are biodegradable. Do not use regular plastic bags. The BIO bags must be knotted to minimise odours before being placed in the dedicated courtyard container. No “loose waste” should be placed in the container except items like cut flowers, corn cobs and rhubarb leaves that have not begun to biodegrade.

What can be recycled?

Food waste, raw and cooked

Rice, pasta and breakfast products

Meat, fish and bones

Bread and cakes

Fruit and vegetables

Sauce and fat


Eggs and eggshells

Nuts and nutshells

Coffee grounds and coffee filters

Tea leaves and tea filters

Used paper towels

Cut flowers

What cannot be recycled?


Animal bedding (eg kitty litter and straw from rabbits)

Food waste in packaging

Potted plants

Source: Copenhagen Municipality

News, Urban

By Bradley Axmith

Translator, day trader, web designer, amateur viking ship builder and martial artist.

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