Products in household waste

An exploratory study in the Nordic Countries

image of Products in household waste

The generation of household waste is increasing at least as fast as consumption. More and more products are produced, bought, consumed and discarded. The question is where do all these products end up? The aim of the study was to evaluate if, and how, existing statistics and data could be used to describe the waste flow composition on a product level and how (necessary) additional information could be collected. The study focuses on utility products which are discarded in a similar shape as purchased or as part of thereof. Typical examples are electrical and electronic equipment, furniture etc. The report gives a review of existing Nordic information, including statistics and pick analyses, together with results of consultations with experts. The main conclusions are that there is a need for better methods of waste analysis and more knowledge about waste flows. The report gives also some recommendations to policymakers.



Waste accounting from production and trade statistics

Our mental model for information search could also be seen as a material balance model, balancing market input (consumption) and output (waste and recycling) leading to search for information on household consumption. Important elements are consumption of new and second-hand products, time of use (instead of lifetime), what happens to the products when used (time of ownership and disposal), etc. There are second-hand market places, but in terms of products in household waste, they represent an extended use/lifetime due to new ownerships. It is relevant, when the products leave the system of investigation (a country or waste collection area). This could in practice be computers, clothes, etc., collected for charity abroad. Many old products are given new functions when replaced with new (for instance, a TV-set in the second home) or simply stored in the households. The approach to quantify waste amounts from consumption may imply an array of uncertainties.


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