Introduction of a waste incineration tax: Effects on the Swedish waste flows

Summary

A tax on waste-to-energy incineration of fossil carbon in municipal solid waste from households was introduced in Sweden on July 1, 2006. The tax has led to higher incineration gate fees. One of the main purposes with the tax is to increase the incentive for recycling of materials, including biological treatment. We investigate whether and to what extent this effect can be expected. A spreadsheet model is developed in order to estimate the net marginal cost of alternative waste treatment methods, i.e., the marginal cost of alternative treatment minus avoided cost of incineration. The value of the households' time needed for source separation is discussed and included. The model includes the nine largest fractions, totalling 85% (weight), of the household waste currently being sent to waste incineration: food waste, newsprint, paper packaging, soft and hard plastic packaging, diapers, yard waste, other paper waste, and non-combustible waste. Our results indicate that the incineration tax will have the largest effect on biological treatment of kitchen and garden waste, which may increase by 9%. The consequences of an incineration tax depend on: (a) the level of the tax, (b) whether the tax is based on an assumed average Swedish fossil carbon content or on the measured carbon content in each incineration plant, (c) institutional factors such as the cooperation between waste incinerators, and (d) technological factors such as the availability of central sorting of waste or techniques for measurement of fossil carbon in exhaust gases, etc. Information turns out to be a key factor in transferring the governing force of the tax to the households as well improving the households' attitudes towards material recycling.

Coworkers: Tomas Ekvall

Keywords: Heat treatment, Waste management, Sorting, Availability, Incineration plant, Vegetal waste, Waste paper, Paper waste, Plastics, Packaging, Food waste, Domestic refuse, Waste treatment, Modeling, Spreadsheet, Biological treatment, Recycling, Solid waste, Urban waste, Tax, Incineration

Year: 2007.0

Report number: A1565

Authors: Jenny Sahlin, Tomas Ekvall, Mattias Bisaillon, Johan Sundberg

Published in: Resources, Conservation and Recycling 51(4):827-846 2007