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Green bags are meant for organic waste only, Source: Linköping Municipality

One year after Swedish plastic tax, a new problem: paper bags

One year after Swedish plastic tax, a new problem: paper bags

Linköping municipality calls on residents to exercise more caution in handling domestic waste

Linköping authorities have issued an appeal to residents of the municipality to get more disciplined when it comes to sorting and packaging their domestic waste before taking it to the street bins. Apparently, one year after making customers pay for plastic carrier bags in stores – the so-called plastic tax – paper bags have risen in popularity. That, however, means that they are now also increasingly used for packing domestic waste; something they were never meant for.

Paper bags cannot be tied properly and are prone to leaking. This creates problems both for the waste collectors' work environment and at the Swedish Technical Agency's optical sorting plant.

Get acquainted with the term ‘loose waste’

When authorities speak of ‘loose waste’ they are referring to the trash that has spilled out of broken bags and into the bins. And while for many residents once the bag goes into the bin the situation is ‘out of sight, out of mind’, that is not the case for the waste collection crews whose job is to deal with such spillages.

We see that this is a growing problem in Linköping, and we now want to protect the working environment for those who pick up the garbage. Loose rubbish is, to say the least, quite disgusting and unhygienic and creates a poor working environment for those who pick it up,” explained Jens Lövgren, who is a developer at Tekniska verken municipal company. 

He continued: “The rubbish risks blowing around when the bins are emptied, and it becomes sticky with liquid which risks splashing on the staff who empty the bins. Then there is also the possibility that loose waste destroys our optical sorting”.

The municipality for now has decided to issue more tips and warnings to the public, although it remains to be seen if those will be sufficient to correct the situation.

Among them are the following: Do not throw away loose items. Tie a double knot on all bags, both the green bag and the bag for residual waste. The green bag should only be used for food waste. Do not use paper or thin plastic bags to pack waste.

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