Circular Economy Beyond Waste

Reference: LIFE20 IPE/DK/000001 | Acronym: LIFE-IP CE Beyond Waste



Danish consumption and production have led to one of the world’s highest carbon footprints (19 tonnes per capita). A waste generation averaging 816 kg per capita is also one of the highest in Europe (EU average 492 kg per capita). Better integration of circular approaches in waste prevention and waste management are ways of meeting these challenges. However, the waste management sector is highly fragmented, as the Danish Environmental Protection Agency is the competent authority at national level while implementation lies with the municipalities through 98 local waste management plans. This also affects the value of the waste fractions: waste sorting is currently defined locally, reducing the potential for creating homogenous fractions of high quality and volume, which is necessary to establish effective commercial markets for secondary raw materials. In Denmark, less than 60% of the collected, sorted, and registered waste is recycled. Furthermore, the Danish waste-to-energy system has led to a ‘trap of incineration overcapacity’ and an increased dependency on imported waste. Waste incineration plays an important part in district heating (20%) and electricity production (5%), and large sums have been invested in incineration plants, hampering waste prevention, reuse and recycling. Waste prevention has primarily been the responsibility of central government, and municipal prevention initiatives are varied and reflect different local priorities. Municipalities have expressed concern that waste prevention is difficult and that capacity building and cross-sectoral cooperation is needed. The Action Plan for Circular Economy (APCE) and mainstreaming circular economy approaches offers a way forward, but implementation requires a holistic approach and the participation of a broad range of stakeholders. Coordinating beneficiary, the Central Denmark Region (CDR), along with the Capital Region of Denmark (CR) are well placed to facilitate the process, as the regional governance level in Denmark supports coordination between municipalities and helps bridge the gap between national and municipal authorities.


The LIFE-IP CE Beyond Waste project aims at the full implementation of the Danish Action Plan for Circular Economy (APCE) in a way that reinforces and accelerates the shift to a circular economy, to keep resources at the highest possible level of the waste hierarchy for as long as possible.

The three main objectives of the project are:

  • Waste prevention: To prevent waste generation and reduce consumption of primary resources by introducing and integrating circular approaches in the actions and behaviour of public authorities, private enterprises as well as among citizens;
  • Circular waste management: To turn waste into resources by implementing circular economy practices in the treatment of waste, realise markets for reuse and secondary raw materials, and innovate waste monitoring to include effects of circularity and thus incentivise the circular economy;
  • Regulation: To improve the regulatory framework, governance, and incentives for circular economy, waste prevention and circular waste management, by identifying regulatory barriers to circularity and providing feedback and guidance to political and administrative decision-makers.

The project contributes to the implementation of the EU Circular Economy Action Plan, Waste Framework Directive, Ecodesign Directive, and Bioeconomy Strategy. It implements the Danish Action Plan for Circular Economy (APCE), National Waste Prevention Programme and Waste Management Plan 2020-2032, and Climate Plan for a Green Waste Sector and Circular Economy.

Ιn addition to the IP budget itself, it is estimated that the project will catalyse investments in the waste sector of approximately €15 million (by GUDP, MUDP, ERDF and SME:Digital).


Expected results:

The main expected results are the Danish Action Plan for Circular Economy (APCE) implementation, and the fulfilment of the three main project objectives: Waste prevention, Circular waste management, and Regulation.

Specific results expected include:

  • By 2030, the Danish waste sector has increased its recycling of waste from 69% to 90%, reducing CO2eq emissions by approx. 2 million tonnes;
  • Negative environmental impacts reduced by replacing virgin materials with secondary raw materials, reducing CO2eq emissions by 3 million tonnes;
  • By 2030, waste generation is reduced by 40% from 816 kg to 489 kg per capita, and incineration reduced from 3.95 to 2.6 million tonnes annually;
  • Circularity principles integrated in public procurement, and procurement strategies developed and applied by 10 public entities, affecting 45 public suppliers;
  • At least 30 businesses, 40 municipalities and 2 regions are frontrunners in demonstrating how to roll out the circular economy in practice;
  • Identification of regulatory barriers to the circular transition, and feedback to improve regulation, governance, and incentives to increase policy coherence;
  • Reuse stations and business models for reuse designed and tested, including new models for integrated employment for the socially vulnerable;
  • More than 500 network meetings, conferences, workshops, etc., leading to strong national partnerships, addressing waste streams and improving practices; and
  • Circular tenders across municipalities provide solutions to legal and contractual matters and enhance the possibility of circular solutions being implemented.


Reference: LIFE20 IPE/DK/000001
Acronym: LIFE-IP CE Beyond Waste
Start Date: 01/01/2022
End Date: 31/12/2029
Total Budget: 16,898,621 €
EU Contribution: 10,000,000 €
Project Location: Denmark


Coordinating Beneficiary: Region Midtjylland (Central Denmark Region)
Legal Status: PUBLIC
Address: Danmark
Contact Person: Jesper Birkhøj Jensen

LIFE Project Map



  • Circular economy and Value chains
  • Resource efficiency
  • Life Cycle Assessment-Management
  • Municipal waste (including household and commercial)
  • Waste recycling
  • Waste reduction - Raw material saving
  • Energy efficiency
  • Waste use
  • Construction and demolition waste
  • Efficiency


  • waste management
  • environmental awareness
  • energy saving
  • recycling potential
  • waste use
  • waste recycling
  • waste reduction
  • waste collection
  • recycling
  • environmental management
  • life-cycle management
  • incineration of waste
  • climate action plan


  • COM(2015)614 - "Closing the loop - An EU action plan for the Circular Economy" (02.12.2015)
  • Directive 75/442/EEC -"Waste framework directive" (15.07.1975)


Name Type
Region Midtjylland (Central Denmark Region) Coordinator
The Danish Environmental Protection Agency Participant
The Capital Region of Denmark Participant
Aalborg Kommune Participant
Aalborg University Participant
AFLD Participant
Albertslund Kommune Participant
Bornholms Regionskommune Participant
Gate21 Participant
Gentofte Kommune Participant
Holstebro Kommune Participant
Thisted Kommune Participant
Viborg Kommune Participant
WeDoDemocracy Participant
Aarhus Kommune Participant
Vejle Kommune Participant
Region of Southern Denmark Participant
Horsens Kommune Participant
Horten Participant
Hvidovre Kommune Participant
Kolding Kommune Participant
Københavns Kommune Participant
Morsø Kommune Participant
Den Erhvervsdrivende Fond Møbelfabrikken Participant
Nomi4s Participant
Plastix AS Plastic.Net Participant
Quantafuel Skive Aps Participant
Randers Kommune Participant
Renosyd Participant
Rudersdal Kommune Participant
Samsø Kommune Participant
Silkeborg Genbrug og Affald Participant
Silkeborg Kommune Participant
Skive Kommune Participant
AffaldVarme Aarhus Participant
Central Denmark EU Office Participant
Favrskov Affald Participant
FGU Bornholm Participant
Fredensborg Kommune Participant
Frederiksberg Kommune Participant