Why should we care about this issue
Economic growth is one reason for the rising quantities of waste.There is more and more hazardous waste from consumer goods such as computers and mobile phones. However, with more waste recovery, the quantity of waste delivered for final disposal has remained relatively stable. Norway aims to recover about 75 per cent of all waste by 2010, this goal has been reached. Releases from waste treatment have been reduced in recent years.
The state and impacts
Norway generated 10.4 million tonnes of waste in 2009, down 5 per cent from the previous year. This is the first time since the waste accounts began that the waste amounts fell.
Since 1995, the total waste volume in Norway has increased by 41 per cent. The household waste comprises an increasingly bigger share of the total waste amount. In 2009 households generated 21 per cent of all waste in Norway.
The recovery rate for non-hazardous waste reached 78 per cent in 2009. Recycling comprised 3.2 million tonnes, or 40 per cent, while energy recovery counted for 25 per cent. The remainder was recovered either by biological treatment (e.g. composting) or used as filling compound or cover material at landfills.
Final treatment of waste means landfilling or incineration. Incineration with energy recovery is considered to be recovery, butthesetreatment methods result in different environmental impacts.
Landfilling of waste leads to the generation and release of methane, a greenhouse gas. In 2009, methane from waste accounted for about2 per cent of Norway's greenhouse gas emissions and thus contributes to global warming. Landfilling also represents a threat for coming generations as emissions continue for a very long time after waste is deposited. Incineration of waste leads to emissions of flue gases containing hazardous chemicals, dust and acidic components.
Landfilling declined by 11 per cent in 2009, and amounted to1.9 million tonnes. Hazardous waste disposed of at specially engineered landfills was by far the biggest portion, making up slightly more than one third of the landfilled volumes. The remaining amounts were concrete, glass, plastic, etc., which degrades very slowly in the landfills.
The amount of degradable material going to landfill dropped by as much as 18 per cent in 2009, partly due to a ban on the landfilling of bio-degradable waste that enteredinto force on 1 July 2009, and increased export to Sweden for incineration.
Waste electrical and electronic equipment
More than 153 000 tonnes of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) was collected in Norway in 2009. This is about32 kg per capita.This figure is higher than the one reported to EU, because Norway categorises more of the waste as WEEE than EU. The waste reported to EU is only WEEE that is covered by the WEEE Directive.
In 2008,a total of 1,1 million tonnes of hazardous wastes were handled according to approved treatment. This represents a5 per cent increase from the previous year. The quantity of hazardous wastes handled by unknown methods is the same figure in 2008 as in 2007, but the long-term trend shows a reduction of 32 per cent since 2003.
If hazardous waste is dumped with ordinary waste it may result in the dispersal of harmful substances in the environment. They may spread via seepage of contaminated water from landfills, or in the flue gases, ash or slag produced in the incineration process. Hazardous waste which is disposed in the sewage may cause increased pollution of sea and seabed due to malfunctioning of purifying plants.
The key drivers and pressures
Economic growth, or growth in production and consumption, is the key driving force behind waste volumes in Norway. Larger homes, higher housing standards, frequent decoration and reconstruction, and increased spending on furniture and household appliances are typical examples of how affluence generates waste.
The 2020 outlook
The total quantity of waste increased by approximately 41 per cent between 1995 and 2009, while the gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 40 per cent in the same period.
According toNorway's national goal growth in the total amount of waste is to be significantly lower than the economic growth. As shown in the figure below wasteamounts were not developing in line with thisgoal.
The national goal on waste recovery is that 75 per centof the total quantity of waste is to recovered in 2010, this target has been reached since 2004 . The proportion is subsequently to beraised to 80 per cent. This is based on the principle that the quantity of waste recovered should be increased to a level that is appropriate in economic and environmental terms.
Statistics Norway has calculated that 78 per cent of the total quantity of waste was recovered in 2009.
According to the national goalhazardous waste is to be dealt with in an appropriate way, so that it is either recovered or sufficient treatment capacity is provided within Norway.
Most of the hazardous waste that is generated in Norway is dealt withinwithin the country.According to Statistics Norway about 11 per cent was exported for approved treatment in 2008. A total of 1,1 million tonnes was handled in Norway. About 65 000 tonnes was handled in unknown ways.
Existing and planned responses
Waste management is regulated in various ways, and there is interplay between regulation at central and local levels. The central government authorities set the general framework, leaving municipalities and industry with a relatively free hand to design local collection and treatment solutions.
Important waste policy instruments
The authorities have put in place a number of instruments (e.g. legislation, taxes, and economic incentives) targeted at the municipalities, business and industry.The most important waste policy instruments are:
- municipal responsibility for household waste
- business and industry responsibility for dealing with the waste they generate, including the collection and appropriate treatment of certain types of waste products, such as ee-waste, packaging, cars, tyres, batteries, lubricant oil and PCB-windows
- regulation of landfilling and incineration according to EU legislation
- tax on final disposal of waste to landfills
- waste management plans as a mandatory element of all building projects, as part of municipal administrative procedures
- from 1 July 2009 landfilling of biodegradable waste was prohibited
Theeffectof policy instruments is expected to increase
The instruments in the waste area contribute in a positive direction, particularly in relation to achieving reduced emissions from waste treatment. More stringent requirements, for example, provide better control of runoff ofhazardous substancesfrom landfills.
Theeffectof the policy instruments is expected to increase. This particularly applies to initiatives that require re-adjustment by the municipalities, businesses, and a change in people’s habits and customs.See also:
Statistics Norway: Waste
Regulations relating to the recycling of waste
Ministry of the Environment: Report on Waste Policy
Statistics Norway: Hazardous waste
NORSAS - Norwegian Resource Center for Waste Management and Recycling
The WEEE Register
Klif: A guide to exporters of used goods (PDF)
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe’s environment.
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