Waste prevention and reuse
Preventing the creation of waste is the first step in the waste hierarchy. Sweden has a good track record when it comes to limiting landfill usage and instead recovering material, energy and nutrients from waste. Additional environmental benefits are achieved by preventing the production of waste and by increasing reuse. Preventing waste means both reducing waste volumes and reducing the amount of hazardous substances in the waste. The municipalities play an important role in this work, but manufacturers and producers must also give consideration to prevention when designing the products.
Tools for prevention
Avfall Sverige is continuously striving to develop tools to support municipalities in their efforts to prevent waste. One such tool is a work method that involves working in a structured manner within a municipal organisation. The method has been tested and has resulted in a reduction in both waste volumes and costs. The work method is described in a handbook.
Another tool is the “Miljönär” label, which was developed by Avfall Sverige and is used by the municipalities to inspire sustainable consumption. The label aims to draw attention to organisations that make it possible for the public to repair, share or reuse, or to reduce waste in any other way. The website, miljönär.se, contains a map marking all of the Miljönär-labelled organisations in the country and provides tips on how to reduce waste volumes.
Since 2009, Avfall Sverige has been the national coordinator of the EU project "European Week for Waste Reduction", which is also supported by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. The project runs for one week in November, when activities aimed at reducing the amount of waste and the quantity of hazardous substances in waste are arranged all over Europe. This campaign can also be used by the municipalities in their work to reduce waste. Information on the project is available at www. ewwr.eu.
There are several ways to work with waste prevention in a waste plan. Some municipalities choose to only have general goals, while others have measurable targets and specify concrete actions. Several examples of this have been compiled in a report, which can also be used in waste prevention work.
Reuse is defined as a measure that involves a product or component that is not waste being used again for the same purpose as it was originally intended. Preparing for reuse involves waste management that applies inspection, cleaning or repair to enable products or components submitted as waste to be reused.
It is becoming more and more common for municipalities to partner with aid organisations at their recycling centres to form recycling parks or reuse centres. These are currently found at about 25 recycling centres. Clothes, household items, furniture and more can be deposited there for reuse. Several municipalities are considering developing reuse centres to centres for repair, rental, borrowing, and exchanging and sharing activities.
About half of the country's recycling centres have simpler means for accepting materials for reuse, such as clothes and furniture. To facilitate the prevention and reuse work of the municipalities, Avfall Sverige has published a guide that explains the legal requirements.