Waste sorting in apartments: integrating the perspective of the user

Isabel Ordoñez, Robin Harder, Alexandros Nikitas, Ulrike Rahe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


In order to increase resource recovery from solid waste, better sorting of household waste is needed. This article reports on a case study about waste sorting infrastructure performance carried out in two buildings in Gothenburg, Sweden. Results from the study reveal mismatches between users' needs and what the system offers, affecting the sorting rates and quality of the sorted material. Frequent sorting errors were observed from the tenants in these apartment buildings, where more than 70% of the discards that go in the mixed waste could be sorted out into other available fractions, with biodegradable waste being the most neglected. Hazardous waste was often discarded wrongly and recurrent errors were observed in the containers available for sorting different packaging material. Given the performance observed, initial suggestions are made for housing companies to rethink the sorting system they offer to their tenants (i.e. accessible space for electronic waste, more space for biodegradable waste, possibility of sorting textiles, etc.). Most importantly this paper makes the case that housing companies have the opportunity to provide sorting infrastructure that is designed for the user, rather than just fitted to the waste management system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)669-679
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Early online date13 Oct 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2015
Externally publishedYes


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