Robots will handle waste in Denmark

By State of Green, March 20, 2017

Today, Denmark's first waste handling facility operated by robots opens in Holstebro, Denmark where the Minister of Environment and Food, Esben Lunde Larsen will cut the ribbon.

Citizens in the municipalities of Holstebro, Lemvig, Skive and Struer can now throw waste materials such as plastic and metal in the same rubbish bin. When the waste arrives at the brand-new facility NOMI4S, robots and advanced technology will manage the detailed sorting of it. To begin with, the robots will sort plastic waste, but the objective is that the robots will sort many types of waste materials.

– “This is an idea of the future waste management. It makes it easy for citizens to consider the environment and ensures that valuable resources in waste is recycled into new products instead of being incinerated”, says the Minister of Environment and Food, Esben Lunde Larsen.

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It is expected that the fully automated facility will create more jobs locally, and also contribute to strengthening the export of Danish environmental technology, as similar facilities could be established in other countries and in other Danish municipalities.

We have to recycle more

Denmark belongs to the one-third of EU countries, who are best at sorting and recycling waste. We are good at making energy out of our waste, but every year we incenerate one million tonnes , although the majority could have been recycled.

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– “We can and must become better at recycling waste. It makes very good sense that we have to recycle much more than today, so good resources gain new value again. I am glad that we have developed a technology with funds from MUDP, that can contribute to reaching this objective, and which are based on Danish robot solutions. It is a win-win situation, that we both create better waste handling while showcasing Danish technology, that can be exported abroad”, says Esben Lunde Larsen.

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The waste handling facility has in total received DKK 8 million in subsidies, of which DKK 5.4 million is from the MUDP programme (Environmental Technology Development and Demonstration Programme) and DKK 3 million from the Central Region of Denmark.


  • The latest figures from 2014 show that 31% of household waste in Denmark is recycled (measured in seven types of waste materials). In the current waste management plan, the target is that this figure will rise with 50% by 2022.
  • It is documented that every year in Denmark a million tonnes of dry waste materials are being incinerated, where the majority of this waste could have been recycled.
  • When it comes to recycling our total household waste, Denmark was in the 10th place among other EU countries in 2014. We have a tradition to incinerate our waste to exploit energy in the form of heat and electricity. Additionally, we are among the best in the EU to minimise landfill, as we only landfill 2% of our household waste.
  • At the NOMI4S plant, the robots will initially only sort plastic waste. But they can be adjusted to sort all types of materials that the sensors can register, and they may eventually be programmed to sort dangerous chemicals out of the waste or find valuable metals. This means, that citizens can eventually throw more of the dry types of waste in the same trash-can such as; glass, plastic, metal and wood, but not organic waste –  and thereby they can avoid sorting waste in many different containers.
  • NOMI4S is a joint municipal resource company. It was founded in 2014 and is owned by the municipalities of Holstebro, Lemvig, Skive and Struer. NOMI4S services approx. 148. 000 citizens of the 4 municipalities.
  • In addition to NOMI4S, the private companies Linatech, Nordtec-Optomatic, and Robot Black are also contributing to the project.

Source: The Ministry of Environment and Food.

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