Walking Away From Haz Waste

On a cold and windy November weekday there aren't any cars lined up at the new Kretsloppsparken (Waste Park) Alelyckan outside Gothenburg, even though there are four lanes available - a veritable expressway! - for vehicular drop-off of practically every waste type you can think of, from sheets of asbestos to old bedsheets, and the bed besides. Alelyckan's employees look cold as they wait for some recycling traffic. For most people, it seems, recycling is the kind of errand you do on the weekends, when the backseat gets so filled with all that can't be recycled curbside that you can no longer fit in any grocery bags.

Yet what about those of us that have eschewed the car altogether (or those of us that dream of doing so)? The dead batteries and other recyclable flotsam and jetsam builds up under sinks and overflows storage bins. That's why Samlaren (Collector), designed by a student at Chalmers Technical University, is such a great idea. Swedes are already used to bringing glass and plastic bottles and aluminum cans to the grocery store to return for deposit. Trucks from the private municipal garbage service must pick up those bottles and cans, so it makes perfect sense for four selected Konsum Coop stores in Gothenburg's inner city to also allow you to drop off old batteries and light bulbs and appliances small enough to fit in Samlare's intake shutes.

While Sweden's consumption of small electronics has skyrocketed, recycling has stagnated. There's no national system of recycling - each municipality handles takeback of paper, cans, plastic and hazardous waste differently. While in some parts of the country there's a fee to turn in waste, in Gothenburg it's free, whether it's a trip to Alelycka's drive-through recycle center or a walk-away drop-off before the regular grocery shopping. The city will try out Samlaren for four months before evaluating its costs. Via ::Chalmers

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