Bornholm is going trash free – by recycling all of its waste! (National Geographic, April 2019)

The Danish island of Bornholm has an aging incinerator that will soon need replacement. Instead, the local government is adopting a totally new system

Imagine a whole community reusing or recycling every last scrap of waste. That may sound utopian, but perhaps not on the Danish island of Bornholm.

By 2032 all waste on Bornholm will be treated as resources, say officials. Garbage sorting, recycling, minimizing waste, and a lot of new technology are the tools envisioned to turn Bornholm into one of the first garbage-free communities on the planet.

Bornholm, the easternmost island of Denmark, is a 227 square-mile (588 square-kilometer) granite rock jutting out of the Baltic Sea. Known for its quaint fishing villages and sunny climate, it is a popular vacation destination with a permanent population of 40,000 and another 600,000 annual visitors.

“By 2032 we aim to reuse or recycle everything,” says Jens Hjul-Nielsen, CEO of BOFA, the island’s waste management company and key architect behind the garbage-free vision. “How we get to that point is an exciting process, because there is so much we don’t yet know. We have a vision, but no clear-cut plan on how to get there.”

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