Separate Collection of Waste Fractions: Economic Opportunities and Problems

Part of the The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry book series (HEC, volume 63)


Separate collection of valuables from waste is of growing importance for the conservation of resources and the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions from landfills. Moreover, the separation of certain waste fractions, such as food waste, is necessary to ensure that landfills and – more importantly – incinerators are managed properly. It is therefore necessary to examine the reasons and motivations for separating waste. Separation and recycling of waste fractions should decrease the overall cost of waste disposal for citizens and public bodies. This can only happen if the authorities take into consideration some important “stumbling blocks,” i.e. physical and socioeconomic indicators and prerequisites, when introducing a recycling system. Four examples (landfill tax as an incentive for separate collection, recycling of used paper and cardboard, collection of bio-waste, recycling of mixed packaging waste) have been investigated in order to evaluate the reasons for successful and unsuccessful attempts at resource recovery. Economic incentives for waste segregation are very important and should be tested in pilot studies or through simulation games, because major differences between opportunity costs and costs for alternative treatment options may lead to unwanted behavior by waste producers and/or citizens. Furthermore, citizens’ behavior regarding the separation of valuables, their cultural background with respect to waste management, and social norms must be taken into account when planning collection schemes. Obviously, convenient access to collection systems is essential. Citizens must become accustomed to these systems; long-term awareness raising helps to optimize the successful collection of recyclables.


Economic incentives Extended producer responsibility Informal collection Separate collection Stumbling blocks for recycling 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.N3 Thinking Ahead Dr. Friege & PartnersVoerdeGermany

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