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Increased recycling of plastic waste

By recycling half of their plastic waste, the Nordic countries can save CO2 emissions roughly corresponding to all the car parks in the Nordic capitals. How can Nordic countries accomplish this without recycling hazardous substances?

Three projects on plastic waste have been going on under the Nordic green growth initiative:

1. Proposals for improvements in existing collection and recycling systems for plastic waste from households and other municipal waste sources:

  • A Nordic guideline for municipalities for collection of plastic packaging
  • Proposals for future solutions for collection and recycling of plastic packaging and other types of plastics from households

2. Optimise Nordic plastics value chains, case: Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE):

  • A guide on how stakeholders  can cooperate to optimise their value chains with regard to recycling and hazardous substances

3. Guideline for plastic sorting at recycling centers:

  • A plastic sorting guide for Nordic recycling centers based on practical experiences that will encourage municipalities and private businesses to implement solutions for increase recycling and better service

See video interview with the project leaders: A Nordic market for recycling of plast


The projects on recycling of plastic waste have focused on plastic packaging from household waste, plastic waste at recycling centres, plastic from electronic waste, plastic markets, and hazardous substances in plastic recycling. In the textile area, the projects have aimed at increasing the collection, sorting, re-use and recycling of textiles in the region as well as exploring the impact of textiles exported from the Nordic region.

The results show that collection and recycling of plastic and textile waste in the Nordic region can be greatly increased. As an example the countries can potentially collect and recycle a further 700,000 tons of plastic from municipal waste streams alone. And a considerable quantity of plastic delivered to recycling centre as well as plastic from electronic waste could also be used much more than is currently the case.

The projects on plastics have proposed tangible strategies and tools to show how private and public players in the plastic value chain can help to increase collection and recycling of plastic. Two of the projects have also developed policy recommendations for Nordic decision-makers, aimed at increasing material recycling of plastic waste.

Read also the articles "Nordic collaboration presents measures to improve plastic recycling rates" as well as "New methods for recycling plastic and textile waste" from the web magazine "Green Growth the Nordic Way" at

See all reports and policy briefs from the project at


COWI/Denmark COWI/Sweden & COWI/Norway; Environice/Island; Ostfold Research/Norway; Swedish Environmental Research Institute (IVL); VTT-Technical Research Centre of Finland;

Aarhus University/Denmark

This project is part of “The Nordic Region – leading in green growth”, the Nordic Prime Ministers’ shared green growth initiative under the auspices of the Nordic Council of Ministers.

Councils of Ministers involved

The following Councils of Ministers are involved in the project on education: Environment, Energy, Trade.

Read more in the web magazine “Green Growth the Nordic Way” or download a fact sheet on the project (requires an issuu account).


Green Growth Plastic Coordinator Jon Fonnlid

Read also the article "New methods for recycling plastic and textile waste" from the web magazine "Green Growth the Nordic Way" at