The Swedish Recycling Revolution

by Sarah FitzsimonsSep 13, 2019

They Are So Good at Recycling, They Have to Import Rubbish!

The Recycling Revolution in Sweden is so brilliant, for the past few years, it has imported rubbish from other countries to keep its recycling plants going. Less than 1% of Swedish household waste was sent to landfill last year or any year since 2011!

We can only dream of such an effective system in Ireland. However we are progressively getting better every year.

A Recycling Revolution


Swedish households separate their newspapers, plastic, metal, glass, electric appliances, light bulbs and batteries. Many municipalities also encourage consumers to separate food waste. And all of this is reused, recycled or composted.

Newspapers are turned into paper mass, bottles are reused or melted into new items, plastic containers become plastic raw material; food is composted and becomes soil or biogas through a complex chemical process. Rubbish trucks are often run on recycled electricity or biogas. Wasted water is purified to the extent of being potable. Special rubbish trucks go around cities and pick up electronics and hazardous waste such as chemicals. Pharmacists accept leftover medicine. Swedes take their larger waste, such as a used TV or broken furniture, to recycling centres on the outskirts of the cities.

Some Swedish companies have voluntarily joined in the struggle. For example, H&M has begun accepting used clothing from customers in exchange for rebate coupons in an initiative called Garment Collecting.

The Optibag company has developed a machine that can separate coloured waste bags from each other. People throw food in a green bag, paper in a red one, and glass or metal in another. Once at the recycling plant, Optibag sorts the bags automatically. This way, waste sorting stations could be eliminated.

7 Tips For Better Recycling at Home

  • Don’t put clothes or shoes into your recycling bin, instead bring them to charity shops.
  • Do not place batteries in bins. Batteries must be recycled appropriately and can be placed in battery boxes located in any shop that sells them.
  • Remove inner packaging and flatten cardboard containers to help with the recycling process and to save space in your bin.
  • Don’t put clothes or shoes into your recycling bin, instead bring them to charity shops.
  • Remove inner packaging and flatten cardboard containers to help with the recycling process and to save space in your bin.
  • Do not put food waste or other compostable materials (such as garden waste, tissue paper and soiled pizza boxes) into your recyclables bin, these materials       should be placed into your compost bin.
  • Know the correct bin collection day for your area – to ensure recyclables don’t build up and end up in the wrong bin.

About Kollect

Kollect is Manchester’s leading provider of skip hire, junk removal and recycling solutions, covering Greater Manchester, recovering over 80% of the waste resource material it handles annually.

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