Waste from private cars in 2030

The results presented in this report are a result of research done with support from the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency within the framework of the research programme ”Towards Sustainable Waste Management”.


Towards Sustainable Waste Management (TOSUWAMA) is an interdisciplinary research programme on policy instruments and strategic decisions that can contribute to developing waste management in a more sustainable direction. It includes ten different projects. One of these, “Future waste quantities”, aims to investigate how the quantity of waste develops in different future scenarios for the year 2030. For this purpose we apply the Environmental Medium term EConomic model (EMEC), a computational general equilibrium model of the Swedish economy. EMEC estimates the waste quantities in the year 2030 based on the projected economic activities (investments, production, etc.) in that year. However, the quantity of waste from long-life products − such as buildings, vehicles, and appliances – might not be linked to the level of investment and production in that year but to the level of investments and production in the decades before that. This report presents a complementary study where the waste quantity is instead estimated based on the technical life-time of long-life products.

An initial screening procedure (Chapter 2) indicates that the waste from old buildings and, to some extent, appliances is related to the economic activity in 2030 and, hence, rather well modelled with EMEC. The quantity of waste from vehicles other than private cars appears to be rather small and does not require a specific investigation. In the end, discarded private cars is the only waste fraction where an analysis based on the technical life-time can contribute significantly to the estimate of waste quantities in 2030.

The analysis of the quantity of private cars that are discarded in 2030 is based on estimates of the life-time of cars, of the number of new cars in Sweden in 2015 and 2020, and of the average weight of these cars. We also investigate the material composition of the cars. Our results indicate that EMEC overestimates the quantity of discarded vehicles by 25-100%. There are sources of errors also in our study, but the difference in results should still be taken into account when conclusions are based on EMEC results and the quantity of discarded vehicles is a significant issue.

Coworkers: Anna Widheden, Tomas Ekvall

Year: 2016.0

Report number: C216

Authors: Anna Ryberg Henriksson, Tomas Ekvall