Project: Sustainable work environment for recycling with a focus on metals (GreenMetalwaste)

Reaching sustainable development goals will require increased recycling, particularly of common and rare earth metals, which require energy-intensive processes for mining, extraction, and refining. Therefore, the recycling industry must expand over the coming decade.

Handling materials for recycling carries the risk of high exposure to mixed toxic metals and organic chemicals, repetitive work, and potential accidents. However, in Sweden we have little knowledge about the current work environment in the recycling industry. Moreover, the knowledge about risks and systematic management of the work environment likely differs largely among recycling companies. Therefore, in the interdisciplinary project GreenMetalWaste, we aim to characterize the work environment with a particular focus on metal exposure in large and smaller metal recycling companies, explore the subsequent health effects, evaluate companies’ risk management, and work with the companies to find solutions to mitigate the risks. Specifically, we aim to recruit workers in Stockholm, Göteborg, Västerbotten, and Southern Sweden, and assess 1) their exposure (particularly for metals), 2) work-related health effects including via biomarkers; and 3) together with the companies, find strategies to minimize risks. The results of this project will provide knowledge about current exposure and risks in the metal recycling industry that are necessary when handling conflicts that may arise between the environmental and work environment goals for the Green Deal.


  • FORTE - The Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare
  • Karolinska Institutet
  • European Union (via partner at Lund University)


Anna Persson