Plastic zero - Plastic ZERO - Public Private Cooperation's for avoiding plastic as a waste

LIFE10 ENV/DK/000098

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Merete KRISTOFFERSON
Tel: +45 33665861
Fax: +45 3366 7133
Email: mekris@tfm.kk.dk

Project description:


In recent decades, as the amount of plastic used in products, packaging and construction has increased, so the amount of plastic in waste streams has also risen. Unfortunately, while plastics have many useful properties, they are very difficult to recycle as they come in many different types and they need to be separated into polymer types to ensure real recycling - upcycling. Most Member States collect either mixed plastic packaging or plastic bottles only, or they collect rigid and flexible plastic packaging separately. Either way, the plastic will still need to undergo some kind of sorting process if it is to be recycled into new, high-value products. In the project location of Greater Copenhagen (Denmark) it is estimated that plastic waste constitutes some 15% of the residual waste destined for incineration. Meanwhile, in Hamburg (Germany) and Malmö (Sweden) this figure is around 8%; and in Riga (Latvia) roughly 20% of the mixed/landfilled waste is plastic waste.


The overall objective of the Plastic Zero project was to reduce wasteful use of plastic made from fossil-based oil, save non-renewable resources and enable carbon neutral energy production from waste. Involving the partner European cities of Copenhagen, Hamburg, Malmö and Riga, three waste management companies and a university, this project would investigate how to prevent waste plastics and increase recycling rates. Information would be gathered from interviews with stakeholders and site visits, plus a review of literature in the field.

Specific objectives included:

  • The establishment of a road map for reducing plastic in waste streams with a view to providing inspiration on possible measures to tackle the issue;
  • The demonstration and documentation of selected measures for the prevention of plastic waste;
  • The demonstration and documentation of selected technologies and methods for sorting and recycling plastic waste;
  • The development of initiatives to create new green businesses and growth within the recycling sector; and
  • The dissemination of knowledge, good practices, technologies and systems to other European cities.


The Plastic Zero project’s most important achievement was the development of a digital road map for managing plastic waste. This was designed following the establishment of a Strategic Advisory Board (SAB), whose experiences were integrated into the project’s guidelines on the creation of a plastic waste roadmap. This in turn resulted in the development of a methodology for estimating amounts of waste plastic generated and managed in partner cities. A key deliverable, following on from this, was a review on plastics in municipal waste streams. This focuses on countries with high recycling levels - Austria, Belgium, Germany and Ireland - and high-quality sorting and recycling systems (i.e. it is not restricted to the partner countries).

Other main project deliverables include:

  • Individual reports on plastic waste for Copenhagen, Liepaja and Tampere regions, Malmö and Hamburg;
  • The development of models for assessment of future plastic amounts for Copenhagen, Liepaja, Tampere, Malmö and Hamburg;
  • A report on technologies and options for plastic waste prevention;
  • A manual for plastic waste prevention, green public procurement (Danish and English versions);
  • A report on existing technologies and methods for plastic waste sorting and collection;
  • A report on the initial assessment of relevant recycling technologies; and
  • The testing of innovative techniques, methods and procedures for sorting and collecting plastic waste.

The beneficiaries carried out 14 waste collection tests, mainly focusing on the collection and recycling of household plastics. They also carried out a test dealing with construction waste and another with textile collection and reuse of clothes, as a large amount of clothing includes synthetic fibres (i.e. plastics). It is worth noting the successful collection of rigid plastic at one recycling station in Copenhagen. This is now being permanently implemented in all recycling stations in the city, with 90% of the apartment buildings in the city having rigid plastic collection bins; this will soon be expanded to family houses. With regards to waste prevention, the project estimated that if all demonstration projects were to be implemented on a city-wide scale, the prevention potential is 200 tonnes of plastic waste per year, equivalent to 600 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

In the implementation period alone, the project managed to divert more than 900 tonnes of plastic waste from landfills and incineration to recycling. However, when considering the project pilot demonstrations already in place, or are likely to be implemented soon, more than 2 500 tonnes of plastic waste could be diverted from landfills and incinerators each year. This, says the LIFE team, would amount to 9 000 tonnes of CO2-equivalents, if the plastic was recycled. Furthermore, assuming all demonstration projects would be fully implemented at city scale, a total of 11 000 tonnes of waste plastic would be recycled. Furthermore, the project had a direct impact in one of the partner regions – Liepaja – where thanks to LIFE, there is an increased focus on the promotion of waste sorting activities, collection, and transportation to treatment and recycling companies, thus developing a sustainable network of cooperation.

Another noteworthy achievement concerns communication activities, in particular, regarding the implementation of collection schemes for three new waste streams (rigid plastic, metal and small electronics) for multi-storey buildings in Copenhagen; the city launched a communication campaign, “Recycling is gold”, which was awarded the ‘ISWA Communication Award 2013’.

In addition, the project makes the following main observations. Firstly, that there should be a considerable potential for exploiting the resources in waste plastics, as current recycling levels are relatively low. Secondly, there is a need for further development of sorting technologies and incentives for sorting facilities to become more effective. And thirdly, there is a “major potential” for informing and training designers on the best design of products for recycling (or for reuse or repair).

Regarding policy, the Plastic Zero project is highly relevant for the European Commission’s Circular Economy Package adopted in 2014, which proposes a ban on the landfilling of recyclable plastics by 2025.

Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Communication Plan (see "Read more" section).


Environmental issues addressed:


Industry-Production - Plastic - Rubber -Tyre
Information - Governance - Environmental training - Capacity building
Waste - Municipal waste (including household and commercial)
Waste - Packaging and plastic waste


consumption pattern‚  waste recycling‚  plastic waste‚  waste collection‚  public procurement‚  preventive measure

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator City of Copenhagen The Technical and Environmental AdministrationEnvironmental Department
Type of organisation Local authority
Description The City of Copenhagen's Technical and Environmental Administration administers activities in the areas of waste planning, local planning, urban renewal, environmental inspection and construction. Information and advisory services for citizens, industries and businesses are a key part of the administration's work.
Partners Amagerforbraendning, Denmark City of Malmoe, Sweden Liepajas RAS., Latvia SIA Getlini EKO, Latvia Freie- und Hansestadt Hamburg, Germany Technical University of Denmark Aalborg University, Denmark


Project reference LIFE10 ENV/DK/000098
Duration 01-SEP-2011 to 31-AUG -2014
Total budget 1,997,308.00 €
EU contribution 998,571.00 €
Project location Københavns amt(Danmark)


Read more:

Brochure "Sort plast : udfordringerne og gode råd til miljøvenlige alternativer" (22.5 MB)
Brochure "Recyclability of plastic packaging : Design criteria for primary packaging" (712 KB)
Brochure "Plastemballagers genanvendelighed : Design kriterier for emballager" (427 KB)
Brochure "Carbon Black Plastic : Challenges and ideas for environmentally friendly alternatives" (22.5 MB)
Poster "Duktlivsgalleri : af stort EAT emballage" (3.89 M ...
Poster "Produktlivsgalleri : Kofanger & emballage" (11.3 ...
Poster "Optimering af EAT-emballage : Produktlivsgalleri" ...
Project web site Project's website
Publication: After-LIFE Communication Plan After-LIFE Communication Plan
Publication: Case study "Testing the use of recycled plastic as material f ...
Publication: Case study "Green Public Procurement analyzed in Denmark - Ca ...
Publication: Case study "Collection, Sorting, & Recycling : Collaborative ...
Publication: Case study "Plastic waste prevention : Collaborative Forums a ...
Publication: Comparative study "Life Cycle Assessment of the EAT programme : Comp ...
Publication: Comparative study "Comparative assessment of five tested sorting tec ...
Publication: Feasibility study "Test notes on practical test and demonstration in ...
Publication: Guidelines-Manual "How to prepare a road map for the management of p ...
Publication: Guidelines-Manual "Manual for forebyggelse af plastaffald via grønne ...
Publication: Guidelines-Manual "Green public Procurement Manual on Plastic Waste ...
Publication: Guidelines-Manual "How to prepare a road map for the management of p ...
Publication: Layman report Layman report
Publication: Layman report Layman report (Latvian version)
Publication: Layman report Layman report (Finnish version)
Publication: Layman report Layman report (German version)
Publication: Pedagogical tool "Bilag A: Materialespecifikke vejledninger" (711 K ...
Publication: Research findings "Survey on existing technologies and methods for p ...
Publication: Research findings "Market conditions for plastic recycling : Action ...
Publication: Research findings "Action 4.1 : Annexes" (921 KB)
Publication: Technical report "Collection and recycling of waste paint buckets" ...
Publication: Technical report "Report on assessment of relevant recycling techno ...
Publication: Technical report "Waste Prevention through GPP : With focus on plas ...
Publication: Technical report "Report on technologies and options for plastic wa ...
Publication: Technical report Project's Final technical report
Publication: Technical report "Life Cycle Assessment of paint bucket recycling : ...
Publication: Technical report "Manual for forebyggelse af plastaffald via gronne ...
Publication: Technical report "Note on plastic waste consultancy performed 2014" ...
Publication: Technical report "Waste minimization of eat boxes and gastro-contai ...


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version