In recent decades, the Nordic countries have pioneered waste management practices and have since made considerable progress.
As more goals, policy instruments and measures have been introduced, public environmental and sustainable awareness has increased. From a very young age, children are taught to recycle, making it a way of life in many households. Waste is no longer seen as merely garbage, but as a valuable resource. Most households in Sweden and in the rest of Nordic countries sort and separates waste into different categories: Food waste, metal packages, plastic, paper, glass, newspapers, electronics, tires, and batteries.
Important steps have been taken to increase reuse and repair of goods are currently taken. Extended producer responsibility creates incentives for the producer to decrease waste generation and increase material recycling.
This applies to eight product groups, batteries, cars, electrical and electronic equipment, packaging, waste papers, pharmaceuticals, and radioactive products.
In Sweden for example only 1% of Sweden’s trash is sent to landfills. By burning trash, another 52% is converted into energy and the remaining 47% gets recycled. The amount of energy generated from waste alone provides heating to one million homes and electricity to 250,000.
290 municipalities are responsible for collection and treatment of municipal solid waste (household waste)
Each municipality in Sweden is obligated to ensure that household type of waste is transported and recycled or disposed of. This includes waste types that do not fall under the Extended Producers Responsibility such as residual waste, organic waste, food waste, bulky waste, and household hazardous waste.
Apart from the environmental aspects and benefits, waste management has become a profitable business generating a lot of different jobs opportunities to the society.