Frequently asked questions

We have gathered answers to the most frequently asked questions below.

I have heard that there is no point in sorting waste, as everything gets mixed together and dumped in a landfill or incinerated anyway. Is this true?

Answer: No, all the waste you sort is handled separately. However, the waste may contain some undesirable substances that cannot be recycled. These are sorted out and are sent to landfill or are sent for energy recovery. It is important that the waste that is recycled into new products is of high quality and does not contain undesirable substances.

Is it really environmentally friendly to wash out packaging for recycling?

Answer: Packaging does not need to be cleaned. All that is required is that it is empty and there is no food residue left. Leftover soap and shampoo can be left in place, as this acts as a cleaning agent in the plastic recycling process.

Is it environmentally sound to transport waste for recycling cross country?

Answer: The government study “Resurs i retur” [Returned resource] SOU 2001:102 states that the recycling of packaging is environmentally beneficial, saving both energy and materials. The environmental impact of additional transport is justified by the environmental benefits achieved. The conclusions are based on seven different life cycle analyses carried out between 1998 and 2001. The same government study also concludes that the recycling of newspapers is environmentally beneficial, based on three different research reports carried out between 1999 and 2001.

Can I take the waste from my holiday home and dispose of it at my permanent residence?

Answer: No. Under Chapter 15, Section 20 of the Environmental Code, the municipality has the exclusive right to transport municipal waste. The rule of thumb is that every property should be connected to municipal waste management, so we can avoid the burning of waste in backyards or people burying their waste, which was the norm some 60 years ago. After all, we do not want to litter, spread toxic fumes, or spread disease through our waste, which is the risk if the collection requirement is relaxed.

There may be local exceptions – contact your municipality to find out what applies where you live.

Should I remove the wick holder from tealight candles?

Answer: Yes, the wick holder is made of iron, while the cup itself is made of aluminium. If the wick holder is not removed before the candle is sent to recycling, the entire cup will follow along with the magnet used to sort out iron. The aluminium will then be incinerated in the smelter instead of being recycled into new material.

Both the wick holder and the cup itself should be disposed of in the municipal metal collection system. But separately. If there is candle residue left, they can be put in the regular bin.

Can ordinary writing paper be put with newspaper recycling?

Answer: Small amounts of ordinary writing paper can be put with newspaper recycling. If you have large quantities, for example if you work from home, you should contact a local contractor to have it collected separately.

When was recycling introduced in Sweden?

Answer: People have been sorting their rubbish for reuse or recycling throughout history. For example, old clothes were repaired or made into something else, including insulation in buildings. For newspapers, glass and textiles, there has been organised collection for a very long time. The first official deposit and return system for glass was introduced back in 1884.

The current producer responsibility system for packaging and newspapers was introduced in 1994. Since then, producer responsibility for electrical and electronic waste, tyres, pharmaceutical products, cars and batteries has been added, and more are expected to follow. Producer responsibility means that producers have an obligation to take care of waste, and to recycle or reuse it.

Do I have to separate my rubbish?

Answer: Producer responsibility means that everyone has an obligation to separate packaging, newspapers, electrical and electronic waste, pharmaceutical products, tyres and batteries, and dispose of them in designated collection containers. If you do not have the option of disposing of items such as packaging and newspapers at your property, you must dispose of them at recycling stations or other collection points indicated by the producers. 

Where should nail varnish and hairspray be disposed of?

Answer: Old nail varnish and spray cans are hazardous waste, and should be disposed of via the municipality’s collection system, usually found at an environmental station or the recycling centre. 

What should I do with old shampoo, creams and lotions?

Answer: The best thing to do, of course, is to use up the products. For example, old sunscreen can be used as a moisturiser. If the products have become old, the contents of the packaging must be emptied into the normal bin. The packaging can then be turned in for recycling.

Leftover soap and shampoo, on the other hand, can be left in place, as this acts as a cleaning agent in the plastic recycling process.

Why is it not OK to put envelopes in the recyclable paper container?

Answer: The glue on the envelope is the biggest problem. It does not dissolve during processing at the paper mill. It instead clumps together. This results in poorer paper quality or, in the worst case, makes it unusable. The same applies to so-called Post-It Notes. By putting envelopes and similar items in the bin, they can instead be used for energy recovery.

What should I do with old DVDs and CDs?

Answer: DVDs and CDs should be discarded with regular waste. They are not covered by producer responsibility for packaging and newspapers. Similarly, the cases should not be disposed of with packaging collection – they are considered a storage container, not packaging. If the municipality has separate collection for non-packaging plastics, the cases can be disposed of there. Ask your municipality.

Where should I dispose of frying oil? It is a couple of litres worth.

Answer: Frying oil should not be poured down the drain as it can cause clogged pipes. A few municipalities have a special collection system for cooking oil, often at the recycling centre. If there is no collection system of this type, the best alternative is to pour the oil in a plastic can or even a milk carton, seal it, and then dispose of it with regular/combustible waste. The fact that this particular packaging cannot be recycled is less of an environmental loss than clogged drain pipes.

How should I sort wrapping paper and receipts?

Answer: Wrapping paper is sorted as paper packaging (together with cardboard). Paper packaging and newspapers are recycled at separate paper mills specialising in different grades of paper. For this reason, wrapping paper should not be disposed of together with newspapers.

Remove the ribbon and tape (if possible), and discard them with regular residual waste.

Receipts are disposed of in the recyclable paper container. Wrap/“package” the receipts in some kind of recyclable paper to keep them from blowing around at the recycling station. 

How should plug fuses be disposed of?

Answer: Plug fuses from standard household fuse boxes can be discarded in the bin (landfill waste if such an option is available).

Why are the openings in the collection containers for glass packaging so small?

Answer: This is for safety reasons – so that no one can get hurt by the glass. The small openings also reduce the risk of foreign material and debris getting into the containers.

Why is it not OK to put drinking glasses in the glass recycling container?

Answer: Drinking glasses are a different grade of glass than glass containers. Mixing the glass grades reduces the recyclability of the glass.

In addition, only glass packaging is covered by producer responsibility for packaging.

Drinking glasses are put in the bin or disposed of at the municipal recycling centre.


Last updated: 2022-04-26