Recycling correctly your waste can be difficult. In 2020, we sorted and separated our waste more, but a quarter of all that was sorted still ended up in the wrong place. A survey conducted by the packaging and newspaper collection showed that 35 percent is sorted incorrectly in the metal recycling, 17 percent in the paper recycling and 28 percent in the plastic recycling. What ended up in the wrong place were mainly toys, batteries, electronics, frying pans and face masks. Trash sorting may differ slightly between different regions and municipalities. If you are unsure of how something should be sorted, you can click here (in Swedish) or follow our guide below.
- Incorrectly sorted composite materials eg blister packs. Think like this; you should not need tools to separate materials and trash, you just throw it in the recycling which material the packaging consists most of. Blister packs mostly consist of plastic and a smaller part of metal = then throw it away as soft plastic.
- Any sort of packaging should definitely be recycled intact and clean, but if you use hot water and lots of chemicals to do so, the environmental benefit of recycling decreases. I.e. rinse, but do not wash.
- Throwing face masks in the paper collection, it is not paper and should be sorted in residual waste at home.
All plastic packaging, both hard and soft, should be sorted for recycling. Nevertheless, 90% of all plastic ends up in household waste where it is burned and leads to fossil emissions in district heating plants. Today, Sweden’s waste incineration is estimated to have emissions of about 2.6 tonnes of greenhouse gasses per year. This makes waste incineration the country’s second largest industrial emitter. Following is a small guide on how to sort your plastic.
- Plastic packaging for regular recycling stations:
- Plastic bags, plastic tubes, refill packages, plastic foil, inner bags for example in cereal packages, bottles, jars, small cans and buckets (jams), chips bags, small amounts of styrofoam e.g. minced meat trays and the like.
- Packaging made of plastic that should be left at the municipality’s staffed recycling center or thrown in the household garbage:
- Plastic toys, plastic furniture, laundry baskets and other non-packaging products.
- Video cassettes / VHS tapes, plastic holders, binders and folders.
- Plastic cutlery.
- The supermarkets’ bottle deposit system:
- Return plastic and aluminum bottles
- Specials requiring contact with the municipality
- Ostomy bags, dialysis bags, catheters and similar products.
- Cardboard packaging for regular recycling stations:
- Packaging for pasta, cornflakes, sugar, egg cartons, milk and juice packaging, paper carrier bags, gift wrappings and smaller corrugated cardboard boxes.
- Cardboard packaging that should be left at the municipality’s staffed recycling center:
- Moving boxes and/or larger cardboard boxes.
- This should not be sorted as paper & cardboard:
- Envelopes should be thrown in the household garbage.
- Daily and weekly newspapers, brochures, flyers and writing paper must be placed in the container for newspapers.
- Metal packaging for regular recycling stations:
- Cans, tubes, caps, foil lids, screw caps for paint cans – empty and dry.
- Metal packaging that should be left at the municipality’s staffed recycling center:
- Tealights and marshals must of course be recycled, but the aluminum (wick holder) must be removed. Otherwise it is automatically sorted as steel and the aluminum burns up in the steel bath.
- This should not be sorted as metal:
- Jars with paint residues, glue and solvents should be left as hazardous waste.
- Metal scraps, plumbing parts, frying pans and other non-packaging products must be sorted as bulky garbage.
- Electronics and electrical items must be collected together with producer responsibility.
- Glas packaging for regular recycling stations:
- Bottles and jars in glass – separate colored and uncolored
- Glas packaging that should be left at the municipality’s staffed recycling center:
- Tealights and marshals must of course be recycled, but then the aluminum (wick holder) must be removed. Otherwise it is automatically sorted as steel and the aluminum burns up in the steel bath.
- This should not be sorted as glass:
- Returnable bottles should be returned in the store.
- Light bulbs should be sorted as electrical waste.
- Porcelain and ceramics should be thrown away as household waste or bulky garbage.
- Products made of glass must be disposed of as household waste or bulky garbage.
- Windows and mirrors must be sorted at a recycling center.
Clothes and textiles
We throw about 7.5 kilos of clothes per person and year directly into the household waste, of which almost 60% could be reused.
- Textiles that should be left at regular recycling stations:
- Leave whole and clean clothes in plastic bags in containers specifically for clothing collection.
- Textiles that should be left at the municipality’s staffed recycling center:
- Not all recycling centers have textile sorting due to lack of space. Where they do, the fabric does not have to be whole and clean. Rags also work.
- Electronics for supermarkets
- Supermarkets often accept small electronics & batteries. If they sell electronics themselves, they have been obliged since 2015 to receive broken electronics that are less than 25 cm long, even if they were not sold there.
- Electronics for the recycling center
- Electronics and electrical items must be collected together under producer responsibility.
Medicines and pharmaceuticals
- Medicines and pharmaceuticals for the pharmacy
- All unused medicines must be handed in to the pharmacy.
- Tubes and spray bottles containing diclofenac must be returned to the pharmacy.
- Pharmaceutical packaging that should be left at regular recycling stations:
- To be sorted as the material it consists of most.
- Styrofoam that should be left at regular recycling stations:
- The respective municipality decides whether there should be separate sorting for styrofoam at the recycling centers. Today, styrofoam is sorted in larger quantities, mainly in the combustible fraction. Except at Lövsta and Bromma in Stockholm, where there is separate sorting as a test. It will be evaluated to examine the environmental- and cost benefits. Then a decision will be made as to whether they should continue with the collection and expand it to all facilities.
- Styrofoam packaging that should be left at the municipality’s staffed recycling center:
- Small amounts of styrofoam are, for example, household packaging such as minced meat trays and the like, and can be left in the green containers in town for which the packaging and newspaper collection is responsible.
Page updated 2021.