Almost everything we consume will one day become waste. Even though there is still a long way to a circular society, Sweden has come a long way in waste management and using waste as a resource.
To minimize waste, prevention and reduction of waste is a foundational task. The waste that is generated should be recycled, reused or repaired. About 99 % of all household waste in Sweden is recycled or reused and turned into energy or materials. The waste can be used for things such as district heating to heat Swedish homes, biogas to run the buses or electricity.
The awareness and dedication of Swedish citizens is a key success factor of why Sweden has become one of the global leaders in sustainable waste management. By teaching children the importance of recycling from an early age, there is social pressure to take care of one’s waste and recycle properly. However, there are also several laws and regulations permitting irresponsible waste management.
Laws and taxes
As a member of the EU, there are laws that Sweden needs to follow, such as the Action Plan for the Circular Economy. But Sweden also has its own Environmental Objectives, which includes better resources management in the food chain. In 2020, a deal was made among the actors of the Swedish food industry as a step of reducing the global food waste by 50 % by 2030, in line with the UN Global Goals. Since 2002 there is a ban on landfill on sorted combustible waste and since 2005, the ban also includes organic waste.
In Sweden, the producers in some sectors have a responsibility for the waste that is generated from their products. The measure was implemented to encourage producers to produce more resource-efficient products that are easier to recycle.
Watch the video below to find out more about Swedish Waste Management.