Search this website


  1. General facts
  2. National legislative framework
  3. National policies on waste
  4. Instruments
  5. Data on waste management
  6. National legislation on waste (selected)
  7. Competent Authorities
  8. Bibliography

1. General facts

General facts
Surface area 43098 Km²
Population (tousand inhabitans) 5397
Population density 125 inhabitants/Km²
Average number of persons per private

Passenger cars per 1000 inhabitants** 351
GDP per capita in Purchasing Power
Standards(PPS) EU25=100

GDP per capita (Constant prices) EUR 30798 (at 1995 and exchange rates)
Land use*** 31,4% agriculture land
11,3% forests and other wooded land
16,9% buildt-up and related land
5,3% wet open land
3,5% dry open land
1,6% Water
Household characteristics by
urbanisation degree, distribution of
households % ****
57% in densely populated areas(at least 500 inhab./Km²)
26% in intermediate urbanised areas(100 - 499 inhab./Km²)
17% in sparsely populated areas(less than 100 inhab./Km²)
Gross value added (GVA) -
At current basic prices and current
exchange rates (% of all branches).
27,6% Industry, including energy
23,9% Construction
21,7% Trade, transport and communication services
18,8% Buisness activities and financial services
5,4% Other services
2,2% Agriculture, hunting and fishing

Source: Eurostat, 2004 except from *2003; **EUROSTAT/DGTREN, 2002; ***2000; ****1999

Back to top

2. National legislative framework

National acts/laws on waste management
Reference Main features
Environmental Protection Act Consolidated Act No. 753 of 25 August 2001 (as amended) The Danish Environmental Protection Act in Part 6 contains provisions on the regulation of waste. The Act states that the local (municipal) council shall be in charge of waste management. Each local council is responsible for establishing capacity for waste management and for providing information on how to dispose of the waste produced within the local council, irrespective of this waste is originating at households or trade and industry.
It defines that new landfills must be owned by public authorities, and that whoever operates a landfill site must ensure that all costs related to establishment and operation, including financial security and after-care of the site of a period of at least 30 years are covered by the payment collected for landfilling of the waste.
Statutory Order No 619 of 27 June 2000 on Waste (as amended) The most important Statutory Order on waste is Statutory Order on Waste No. 619 of 27 June 2000.

2.1 Summary of the legislation relevant to waste management

The legal framework laying down the obligation of local authorities to manage waste is given in the Danish Environmental Protection Act and associated Statutory Orders and Circulars.
Under the terms of the Danish Environmental Protection Act and the Statutory Order on Waste, local councils have a number of duties in connection with waste management.

Where a municipal scheme has been established under the Statutory Order on Waste, citizens, property owners, and enterprises must generally use the scheme. There are, however, various possibilities of exemption from this obligation.
A local council cannot (in the field of waste management) delegate its tasks as an authority. I.e. it cannot delegate the part of municipal administration that involves regulating legal conditions for residents, such as fee setting, preparing by-laws and supervision. However, for waste plans, section 47(4) of the Environmental Protection Act grants them authority to do so. This authority is exploited in section 11 of the Statutory Order on Waste, delegating the competence to plan waste management to an inter-municipal company. In terms of the actual operation of waste management (operational tasks), local councils can choose to coordinate these tasks themselves, assign them to an inter-municipal company (i.e. a union of municipalities), or delegate them to private enterprises. Collection of waste is mainly operated by private waste companies, whereas incineration and landfill of waste are mainly conducted by public authorities.

National waste management plans
Period of implementation Main features
Waste Strategy 2005-08 The Government’s waste policy builds upon three fundamental elements:
  • Prevent the loss of resources and environmental impact from waste.
  • Decouple growth in waste from economic growth.
  • Ensure the improved cost-effectiveness of environmental policies through:
    • Improved quality in waste treatment.
    • An efficient waste management sector.
Waste management plan 1998-2004 The future challenges are:
  • Stabilise total waste amounts
  • To improve quality in waste treatment, i.e.
  • Reduce environmental impact from environmental contaminants in waste.
  • Ensure better resource recovery.
Special attention was paid to eight fractions (the aim was to separate them at source): Organic waste; Paper and cardboard; Cardboard packaging; PVC; Impregnated wood; Waste electrical and electronic equipment; End-of-life vehicles; Batteries.
Another aspect for the future is the quality of waste treatment. Until now, efforts have primarily concentrated on limiting waste arisings, increasing recycling and reducing landfilling. These aspects are still important, but they must be supplemented by more qualitative elements focusing on utilisation of resources in waste, quality in treatment, and greater efforts for avoiding environmental contaminants.
Transposition of landfill and incineration directives
Transposition Act/Law/decree Year of transposition Text available
Landfill directive99/31 Environmental Protection Act
Consolidated Act No. 753 of 25 August 2001 (as amended) - §50a Statutory Order No 650 of 29 June 2001on Landfills (Unofficial translation)
Statutory Order No 647 of 29 June 2001 on training of operations managers and personnel employed at landfill sites
Statutory Order No 619 of 27 June 2000 on Waste (as amended)
Statutory Order No 648 of 29 June 2001 on the revision of Statutory Order No 619 of 27 June 2000 on Waste
2001 Y Danish
Landfill decision 2003/33 Deadline 16 July 2004 – criteria in part 2 of the annex,16 July 2005 2004 and 2006 N
Incineration directive 76/00 Statutory Order No 162 of 11 March 2003 on waste incineration plants 2003 Y Danish

2.2 Implementation of the Landfill/Incineration Directives

Harmonisation of the Annexes to the Directive on the landfill of waste

The Landfill Directive does not clearly define the requirements to financial security. According to Statutory Order No 650 No 650 of 29 June 2001 on Landfills, the preferred type of financial security shall be presented for approval to the competent authority in the application. The competent authority shall approve the following as financial security:

  1. Bank guarantee provided by a financial institution,
  2. credit insurance policy, or
  3. cash depositing on an account in a financial institution.

For landfills owned and operated by local authorities, including inter-municipal bodies, the competent authority shall furthermore approve that the local authority or the local authorities in the inter-municipal body provide a guarantee on demand to the competent authority. The competent authority may approve any other adequate security than those mentioned above, including depositing of other values than cash, for example securities and mortgages. The competent authority may lay down conditions in the approval of the financial security. Furthermore, the competent authority must ensure that the security provided is protected from other creditors, before commencement of waste landfilling.

Conditioning plans

The Statutory Order on Landfill Facilities stipulates that all existing landfill facilities must prepare and submit a transition plan to the approval authority by 16 July 2002. On the basis of this transition plan, the approval authority will reassess the facility’s environmental conditions and decide whether the facility can (or has the potential to) fulfil the requirements in the Statutory Order on Landfill Facilities and hence be granted approval to continue operations after 16 July 2009. Alternatively – in cases where the facility does not fulfil the requirements of the order (and does not have the potential to do so) – the approval authority shall issue an order for the facility to be closed by 15 July 2009. Once the approval authorities have made their decision on the basis of the submitted transition plans, each landfill facility will receive an order in the form of a positive list specifying the waste types that the facility is permitted to receive for landfilling. The landfill facility operator will be required to provide security for the obligations relating to the closure and post-treatment of the facility and will be informed of the terms of this requirement. In 2002, the Danish Environmental Protection Agency issued Guideline no.5, 2002 on the preparation of conditioning plans. This guideline explains, in a number of key areas, the regulations relating to the preparation of conditioning plans laid down in the Statutory Order on Landfill Facilities, and should be seen as an aid and inspiration in the work of preparing conditioning plans for existing landfill facilities.

Expected outcome

It is expected that the new requirements for waste characterisation will contribute to a further reduction in the annual volume of landfilled waste. As a result of the new requirements, it will become more expensive to landfill waste in the future, and waste producers can therefore be expected to make extra effort to find treatment/utilisation options for the waste types (or parts thereof) that have previously been landfilled. Moreover, the number of landfill facilities in Denmark is expected to be further reduced. The requirements laid down in the Statutory Order on Landfill Facilities¹ are expected to lead to the closure of 40-60 landfill facilities (out of the approx. 150 existing facilities) before 16 July 2009. This date is the deadline under the order for when the operations of all Danish landfill facilities – both new and existing – are required to fulfil the requirements of the order.

¹Statutory Order no. 650 of 29 June 2001 on landfill facilities to the Commission proposal on harmonisation of the annexes to the Directive on the landfill of waste.

Back to top

3. National policies on waste

The general strategy is a ban on landfilling of waste that can be incinerated (is suitable for incineration) which was agreed between the government and the local authorities in 1994 and to be effective from 1 January 1997. From 1997, the agreement led to a temporary shortage of waste incineration capacity which again led to a temporary landfilling of waste suitable for incineration. Moreover, the waste tax on landfill and incineration provides an important incentive to recycle waste.

3.1 Waste from Households (Waste strategy 2005-2008)

Household waste consists of domestic waste (including paper, glass and food waste collected separately), bulky waste, and garden waste. A small proportion of household waste is classified as hazardous. From 1995 to 2001, there has been an increase in the volume of household waste. The major part of this increase can be attributed to garden waste in particular. The increase should also be considered in the context of increased purchasing power and private consumption in the nation. Focus must be given on the consumption, and the resulting volumes of waste. Domestic Waste, aims for 2008:

Cost-benefit analysis of increasing recycling of organic household waste (i.e. food waste)

In 2003 the Danish Environmental Protection Agency made a cost-benefit analysis of the consequences of increasing recycling of organic household waste. The analysis shows that it is more expensive for the society to recycle organic household waste by anaerobic digestion or central composting than by incineration. Incineration is the cheapest solution for the society, while central composting is the most expensive. The total welfare-economic additional cost, compared to present treatment, of recycling about half of the organic household waste, equal to 300 000 tonnes, by anaerobic digestion is DKK 230 mill. per year. The additional cost of recycling 300 000 tons by central composting is DKK 270 mill. per year. Anaerobic digestion of 100 000 tonnes will imply additional costs in the order of DKK 70 mill. per year, whereas central composting of 100 000 tonnes will lead to additional cost of close to DKK 80 mill. per year. The technical studies have shown that there are only small environmental benefits connected with anaerobic digestion of organic household waste compared with incineration of the waste. However, the expenses will increase significantly. The value of the modest environmental benefits is not high enough to outweigh the increased expenses.
The primary reason for recycling being more expensive than incineration is the necessary, but cost-intensive, dual collection of the household waste. Treatment itself is cheaper for recycling compared to incinerating. In the analysis the extra cost of the dual collection is calculated on the basis of full-scale experiments/tests in several local authorities. The extra cost is about DKK 150 per household per year for single family houses and about DKK 110 per household per year for apartments. The extra cost must be below DKK 50 per household per year for single family houses and below DKK 20 per household per year for apartments in order to make anaerobic digestion more attractive than incineration. For central composting the corresponding costs should be below DKK 30 per household for single family houses and below DKK 10 per household for apartments. On this background the government has decided not to make it obligatory for local authorities to introduce separate collection of organic household waste (food waste).

New initiatives for collection of organic domestic waste

3.2 Tyres (Waste strategy 2005-2008)

Landfilling of used tyres has been banned as of 16 July 2001 according to the Statutory Order No 648 of 29 June 2001 on the revision of Statutory Order No 619 of 27 June 2000 on Waste. Collection and recovery of tyres is regulated by the Statutory Order on a Fee on Tyres and a Recovery Subsidy No 111 of 5 February 2000.
In 2004 waste volumes amounted to approx. 42,600 tonnes, of which approx. 3.100 tonnes were reused, 38.300 tonnes were recycled and 1.200 tonnes were incinerated. Around 40% of the total amounts of tyres is assessed to derive from private consumers, and 60% is assessed to come from industry and business. Most of the tyres are disposed of via the service sector, where tyres become waste in connection with renewal and repair. An intermediary goal was that at least 80% of all discarded tyres from private cars, vans, and motorbikes will be collected and recycled or incinerated before 1997. According to the agreement, 80% of all discarded tyres must be recycled or incinerated before 2000. Since 2001, the collection rate has been close to 100%. Goals for 2008:

On 20 February 1995, the Minister for Environment and Energy entered into an agreement with the tyre and motor trade associations, the Association of Danish Recycling Industries and municipal associations on a take-back scheme for discarded tyres. Through the agreement it is ensured that discarded tyres are collected and recycled or incinerated, thus avoiding landfilling and ensuring resource utilisation of waste tyres. The collection and treatment scheme is organised on the basis of the following order of priority: re-treading, rubber powder production, and incineration. The agreement requests enterprises selling tyres to take back a corresponding number of discarded tyres without additional costs for the consumer. Professional collectors are required to receive all tyres from enterprises collecting or receiving discarded tyres, including municipal collection schemes, and to deliver these for recycling or incineration. Further to the agreement, a fee was introduced on tyres² for financing of collection and treatment costs, administration of the scheme, and information campaigns³. Subsidies are paid to the tyre collectors that are registered in the Danish EPA. Registered enter-prises must state in which municipalities tyres are collected. On certain conditions, enterprises are required to collect tyres from waste producers. Subsidies for collection of tyres will only be given, if the tyres are delivered to a reprocessing plant. No subsidies are granted for tyres delivered for reuse, including re-treading. Among other initiatives are information campaigns aiming at limiting faulty assembling of tyres and promote the sale of re-treaded tyres.
²The agreement was implemented by Statutory Order no. 144 of 3 March 1995, which is now replaced by Statutory Order no. 111 of 5 February 2000 on fees and subsidies for recovery of tyres.
³Since January 1996 the support scheme has been administered by the Danish Tyre Trade Environmental Foundation.

Back to top

4. Instruments

Kind of instrument Ban of landfilling
Year of introduction 1 january 1997
Waste streams banned Waste suitable for incineration
Purpose of instrument To move waste from landfill to incineration, and to ease the capacity demand on landfills
Administrative level Local authorities / Danish EPA grant exemptions
Sanctions Fine and prison
Targets achieved This regulation has been very successful and has meant that more waste has been shifted from landfilling to incineration.
Source of information Waste Strategy and Statutory Order on Waste No 619 (§37)
Other information of relevance Increases in volumes of waste and delays in the conversion to co-generation (combined power and heating generation), led to a capacity shortfall in the years immediately after 1997. Over the last few years incineration capacity has been expanded so that by 2001, this capacity was basically in balance with the volumes of waste.
Kind of instrument Tax on waste
Year of introduction 1 january 1987
Rate(s) The waste tax is differentiated so that it is most expensive to landfill waste, cheaper to incinerate it, and tax exempt to recycle it. No tax is levied on hazardous waste, contaminated soil or waste that is covered under the Statutory Order on biomass waste.
Tax rates: 44 EUR/tonnes of waste for incineration; 50 EUR/tonnes of waste for landfilling.
Purpose of instrument To provide an incentive for waste generated to be directly recycled or exploited by incineration with energy recovery, instead of being landfilled. Moreover, the purpose is to prevent the generation of waste.
Receiver Ministry of Taxation / State budget
Tax base Waste delivered for burning and Waste delivered for deposition of waste
Revenue Approx. 1.2 billion DKK/year (130 million EUR)
Administrative level Customs and Excise Department / Ministry of Taxation
Targets achieved The evaluation shows that the waste tax has had a significant impact on the reductions in taxable waste. The tax has been decisive for the reduction in construction and demolition waste, while for the heavier fractions under 'household waste', it has provided an important incentive for separate collection.
Source of information No. 570 of August 3, 1998 Consolidated Act from the Ministry of Environment and Energy on Taxes on Waste and Raw Materials as amended by Act no. 1034 of December 23, 1998 and Act no. 380 of June 2, 1999
Waste Strategy 2005-08, and Ministry of Taxation
Other information of relevance The effect of the tax was evaluated in 1999, see Andersen, Dengsøe and Brendstrup (1999) and Dengsøe and Andersen (1999)
Waste tax rates DKK per tonne, 1987-2003
1987 1990 1993 1997 1998 1999 2001 2003
Incineration with electricity production 40 90 160 210 210 280 330 330
Other incineration 260 260 330
Landfill 40 90 335 335 375 375 375 375
Landfill of residues 0 0 0 210

Source: Danish EPA (2004d)

Other taxes:

Packaging taxes are levied on a number of products. Since 1978 a volume-based tax on packaging for most beverages has been in effect. The tax is levied on new packaging and thereby provides an incentive to use refillable packaging. In addition, effective from 1 January 1999, a weight-based tax was introduced for 13 types of material and packaging. This tax is levied on packaging for a number of products, including soap and detergents, lubricants, perfume and margarine. Non-carbonated soft drinks, vinegar and edible oils were covered by the weight-based tax on and from 1 January 1999. The weight-based tax promotes the reduction of packaging consumption and hence reduces the volume of waste. The tax was adjusted, and from 1 April 2001 to reflect the environmental impact from each material. A number of environment indices have been established on the basis of “cradle to grave” (life cycle) assessments. As of 1 January 1999, a weight-based tax has also been levied on plastic-foil foodstuff packaging manufactured from soft PVC. The purpose of this tax is to promote the use of more environmentally friendly packaging foils. As of 1 July 2000, a tax on PVC and phthalates came into effect.
The tax on nickel-cadmium batteries and the environment premium on vehicles: Revenues from these taxes are used to cover the costs of reimbursement schemes for the collection of nickel/cadmium batteries and for vehicle owners that deliver end-of-life vehicles for scrapping at registered scrapping enterprises.
Local councils are permitted to finance their actual expenses associated with the management of household waste using fees. The councils may finance their actual expenses associated with the management of waste from trade and industry using fees. The fees may cover costs for establishment, operation, administration, investment, planning, and collection of information, etc. In compliance with general local government rules, fees must be calculated based on a cost-coverage principle, i.e. the rate of the fees must be fixed so that over time there is a balance between revenues (fees) and the costs of waste management schemes. Schemes must therefore be based on the non-profit cost-coverage principle.

Kind of instrument Separate collection of waste streams
Year of introduction
  • Packaging glass: since 1990¹
  • Cardboard from private households: since 2004²
Waste streams collected The local councils are under an obligation to collect a number of paper types for recycling from private built-up areas with more than 1,000 inhabitants. This must be done by means of fixed collection equipment.
Furthermore, the local councils are obliged to collect other paper and cardboard including cardboard packaging via kerbside collection schemes from private, built-up areas with more than 1,000 inhabitants. However, the local councils do not have to meet these requirements if they collected 40 and 55 per cent respectively in 2001 and 2002 of recyclable paper and of cardboard potential from households. The local councils only have to meet the requirements if the volume collected is less than 55 per cent of recyclable paper and cardboard potentials in two successive calendar years from 2003 onwards.
In built-up areas permanently accommodating more than 2,000 households, collection schemes for waste glass packaging must be established from private households.
Administrative level Local authorities / Danish EPA grant exemptions
Source of information Statutory Order on Waste No 619 2000 (§40-43)
Other information of relevance Potentials of generated paper and cardboard in each local authority are calculated and published by the EEA (§72)

¹ Danish EPA(1987)
² Danish EPA (2000). The regulation only applies if the local authority collects less than 55 % of the total potential of paper and cardboard quantity in 2002.

Kind of instrument Deposit refund schemes
Year of introduction 1981 (cf. Danish EPA (1999b)
Purpose of instrument The purpose of the system is to collect and recycle or reuse of beverage containers in order to minimize litter and waste incineration.
Type of permits system Until 2002 domestically produced beer and soft drinks were only sold in reusable glass and plastic bottles with a deposit while cans were prohibited. The packaging had to be approved by the Danish EPA. Imported beer and soft drinks could be sold in one-way glass and plastic packaging (with a deposit). Each producer and importer was obliged to set up a deposit and return system.
In 2002 the regulation was changed, allowing all beer and carbonated soft drinks to be sold in one-way packaging inclusive metal cans. At the same time a common deposit-return system was established to cover all one way packaging for beer and carbonated soft drinks. The deposit is between EUR 0.13 and EUR 0.4 depending on the volume of the packaging.
In 2005, the system was expanded to include all alcoholic sodas, ciders and energy drinks.
Waste streams involved Packaging
Administrative level Since 2002: Dansk Retursystem A/S
Actors involved The Danish breweries and soft drink producers established a private limited company, Dansk Retursystem A/S, which manages the deposit and collection system of one-way packaging so that the deposit can be refunded in all shops and supermarkets that sell beer and soft drinks. Any producer or importer of beer and soft drinks must pay a fee to Dansk Retursystem which in return organises the collection of (disposable). Producers and importers of beer and carbonated softdrinks in reusable packaging are obliged to ensure that the packaging is included in a deposit and return system.
Monitoring systems Dansk Retursystem and Danish EPA
Administrative costs The net-turnover of the private company, Dansk Retursystem, was in mEUR (approx):
  • the first 6 months of 2000: 4.3
  • 2001: 12.8
  • 2002: 17.0
  • 2003: 28.6
  • 2004: 29.7
Targets achieved The system for reusable packaging has been successfully applied for many years. The return rate is estimated to be as high as 99% for reusable containers of beers and carbonated soft drinks.
In its first two years of operation (2003 and 2004) Denmark's new common deposit-return system for disposable beverage packaging has achieved a total recovery rate of 80 – 83% for disposable packaging for beer and soft drinks. In 2005, 84% was recycled. The recovery of disposable packaging was thereby falling short of the target of 95% by 1 January 2005. The return rate for refillable packaging which is approx. 100%.
Links to other policy instruments Packaging tax, http://www.skat.dk/foreign/english/2087.html
(Consolidated Act on taxes on certain types of packaging, bags, disposable tableware and PVC foils)
Source of information Statutory Order No 713 of 24 August 2002 on deposits and collection etc. of packaging for beer and certain soft drinks with later amendments.
Other information of relevance Dansk Retursystem A/S is a privately owned non-profit company which for a 6 year period has been given responsibility for the deposit and return system by the Danish EPA. The system is working according to the Statutory Order No 713 of 24 August 2002.

Back to top

5. Data on waste management

Waste generation and treatment in 1000 tonnes
1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003
Total waste generation 11466 12912 12857 12233 12233 13031 12768 13105 12835
Municipal waste generated 2959 3253 3104 3141 3329 3546 3620 3587 3634
Municipal waste landfilled 503 432 344 357 361 355 246 215 181
Biodegradable municipal waste generated 1813 - - - - - - - -
Biodegradable waste landfilled - - - - - - 72 38 -
Used tyres generated - 17 18 19 17 34 41 43 41

Source: Eurostat structural Indicators

Waste generation and treatment in kg per capita
1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003
Total waste generation 2198 2459 2437 2310 2302 2445 2387 2441 2384
Municipal waste generated 567 619 588 593 627 665 658 665 372
Municipal waste landfilled 96 82 65 67 68 67 47 41 34
Biodegradable municipal waste generated 348 - - - - - - - -
Biodegradable waste landfilled - - - - - - 13 7 -
Used tyres generated - 3,2 3,4 3,6 3,2 6,4 7,7 8,0 7,6

Source: Eurostat structural Indicators

Back to top

6. National legislation on waste (selected)

National regulations Exists or not (Y/N) Reference (if available)
Landfill Y Statutory Order No. 650 of 29 June 2001 on Landfills
Statutory Order No. 647 of 29 June 2001 on training of managers and staff at landfill sites
Incineration Y Statutory Order No 162 of 11 March 2003 on Waste Incineration Plants
BMW (Bio-degradable municipal waste) Y Statutory Order No 619 No 619 of 27 June 2000 on Waste
Packaging Y Statutory Order No 713 of 24 August 2002 on Deposits and Collection etc. of Packaging for Beer and Certain Soft Drinks.
(More Statutory Orders exist)
End-of Life Vehicles / Tyres Y Statutory Order No 782 of 17 September 2002 on collection of environment and scrapping premiums and payment of reimbusement in connection with dismantling and scrapping of vehicles.
Statutory Order No 480 of 19 June 2002 on management of waste in the form of motor vehicles and derived waste fractions.
Statutory Order No 111 of 5 February 2000 from the Ministry of Environment and Energy on a fee on tyres and a recovery subsidy.
Waste of electrical and electronic equipment Y Statutory Order No 664 of 27 June 2005 on management of waste electrical and electronic equipment (the WEEE Order)
Batteries Y Statutory Order No 1067 of 22 December 1998 from the Ministry of Environment and Energy on management of waste from electrical and electronic products
Construction/demolition waste Y Statutory Order No 655 of 27 June 2000 from the Ministry of Environment and Energy on recycling of residual products and soil in building and construction work

Back to top

7. Competent authorities

This hyperlink will direct you to Competent Authorities on eionet wastebase

8. Bibliography

Back to top