How to sort your waste

Unsure of how to sort your waste? On this page you can find help to sort your regular household waste and things you may not come across on a daily basis.

This is how to sort...

This is how to sort...

The simplest way to sort food waste correctly is to make sure that you only place food waste and food in the brown bin, nothing else. Your sorted food waste is transported to the biogas plant at Tuvan, where it is digested by bacteria to create biogas, one of the cleanest fuels in the world.

Food waste is leftovers and any food that needs to be thrown away

Such as onion skins and carrot peel or leftovers that you can’t eat. If, for example, you use kitchen paper to wipe the fat from a frying pan or mop up spilled milk, you can also put this in with your food waste.

Paper bags for food waste are included in your subscription.

Your food waste becomes biogas

The food waste you separate at source becomes biogas. Buses, private cars and many of the municipality’s waste collection vehicles run on biogas.

Skellefteå Municipality incentivises the separation of food waste at source

In Skellefteå Municipality, we use lower tariffs as an environmental policy instrument to promote the separation of food waste. This means that if you choose a subscription that involves you sorting your food waste you will pay less than if you choose a subscription where you throw all of your household waste into the same bin.

Composting of food waste

You can also compost your food waste. Hot container composting works very well if tended properly. Skellefteå Municipality’s tariff allows composting as long as you notify the Building and Environment Committee. Remember to use the resulting nutrient-rich compost. Perhaps you grow your own vegetables and can return the stems and stalks to your compost container, or you could grow flowers to promote wild bees.

The Waste Hierarchy and food waste: the right thing in the right place for sustainable use of resources

The European Union Waste Framework Directive introduced the concept of the Waste Hierarchy, an order of preference for action to reduce and manage waste.

  1. The highest level is to minimise waste. You can do this by only buying food you know you will actually eat. Did you know that 30% of all food bought in Sweden is thrown away?
  2. The next level is to reuse. Perhaps you can make a lasagna from the remnants of yesterday’s spaghetti Bolognese, or add some lentils to make that leftover tomato soup go further.
  3. The third level is recycling. When you throw your food waste into the brown bin, it will be recycled into biogas at Skellefteås biogas plant. The biogas will then be used to run the municipality’s local buses, company cars, waste collection vehicles and residents’ private vehicles. This is the most environmentally friendly fuel currently available.
  4. The fourth level is recovery. If you throw your food waste into the green bin instead of separating it at source, it will be transported to Umeå for incineration. This recovers the heat energy from the waste, which is then used to heat Umeå’s homes and other buildings. The cost of transporting and processing waste sent for incineration is paid collectively by you and I through our waste subscription, meaning that the less waste we send for incineration, the more money we can invest in improving municipal waste management.
  5. The fifth level is landfill. Sweden has a law that prohibits us from depositing organic waste in landfills. This is because organic material decomposes and forms methane (the same process as in a biogas plant, but without the controlled environment), a powerful greenhouses gas with a global warming potential 27 times that of carbon dioxide. When deposited in landfills, all of this methane gas escapes into the atmosphere instead of being put to good use, to fuel vehicles for example.

The final level is littering. Even if an apple core will biodegrade in the forest without problem, there are many other things that we do not want in the natural cycle. The safest course of action is therefore to always take all of your rubbish home with you, even the organic waste, which you can then throw away in the brown bin.

Household waste is any waste that accumulates around people that does not fall under producer responsibility. The municipality is responsible for collecting this waste pursuant to Chapter 15 of the Swedish Environmental Code (Ds 2000:61).

What does ‘household waste’ mean?

Household waste means any waste generated by private households, including waste typically generated by the use of land and buildings for housing purposes. For example, food waste, cleaning products, nappies, latrines, cesspits and drains, as well as bulky waste such as broken furniture, bicycles and similar objects.

This includes hazardous waste and garden waste

Household waste also covers oil, paint and pesticide residues and other hazardous waste that might be components of household waste, as well as appliances such as refrigerators and freezers. Garden waste such as branches, leaves and cut grass are household waste but fallen trees are not, as these cannot be considered to have a connection to the normal use of the land and buildings for housing purposes.

Packaging, electrical waste and pharmaceuticals are not included

Packaging, recycled paper, batteries, electrical waste and pharmaceuticals are covered by producer responsibility and therefore exempt from municipal collection responsibility, as long as the waste does not find its way into the municipality’s collection system.

Not all waste generated in the home is household waste

Examples of exemptions include waste generated by extensive building or demolition work, major repairs, renovations, rebuilding, demolition, etc.; i.e., when waste is generated in one’s home by builders and not the occupants. This waste is not considered household waste. Whether or not work is extensive must be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

If a business is run from the home, waste generated by the business may also constitute another type of waste than household waste. This depends on the nature of the waste: if someone operates a dental practice from their home, waste generated by dental treatment is not considered household waste, while waste generated by staff lunch and coffee breaks is considered household waste.

For more detailed information, please click on the link for each type of waste.

For a fee, you can order the collection of large quantities of garden waste. Otherwise, you can start a compost heap or take the waste to your local recycling centre.

Examples of garden waste include stems, stalks, shrubs, fallen fruit, branches, grass, leaves, etc.

Order the collection of garden waste

For a fee, you can order the collection of large quantities of garden waste, in which case it will be treated as bulk waste.

Compost or take the garden waste to a recycling centre

You can compost garden waste yourself or take it to a recycling centre, in which case you need to empty the sacks, otherwise these will cause problems when the waste is chipped.

Invasive species

It would be very helpful if you report any invasive species you come across to the authorities, as this may help to stop their spread before they have time to cause major damage. In our area, the main EU-classified invasive species you can help with are the Himalayan balsam, giant hogweed and Persian hogweed, as well as the as yet unclassified lupine, Beach rose and Japanese knotweed. All six species propagate easily from seed, cuttings and root parts if they find themselves in a suitable growing environment and are therefore all unsuitable for cultivation, or indeed composting, as they can begin to grow in compost heaps. It is therefore recommended that you burn these species.

Do the following:

  • Report your find at
  • Remove any invasive species you find in your garden.
  • Do not dispose of them on a compost heap or in nature.
  • Small, well-wrapped quantities of plant parts may be disposed of in the green household waste bin or in the designated container at your local recycling centre. You are permitted to burn garden waste as long as this does not cause a nuisance or a fire ban is in force.
  • Large quantities must be reported to the municipality. Landfill fee SEK 1,500/tonne.
  • Remember to obtain permission from the landowner before taking any measures on someone else’s land.

Learn more about invasive species (external website) Link to external website. External link.

Newspapers, magazines and packaging can be left at your local recycling centre. FTI is a private company that deals with this waste on behalf of companies with producer responsibility.

Producer responsibility

The companies that manufacture, import or sell packaging are responsible for ensuring that these products are collected and recycled. This system is known as producer responsibility. Packaging manufacturers have established five materials companies that own and operate FTI to meet these obligations. All of these activities are conducted on a non-profit basis.

For further information, please visit the FTI website and separate at source guide.

FTI website Link to external website, opens in new window. External link.

New model for collecting packaging

TMR is another company that collects packaging covered by producer responsibility. TMR has developed a new concept in which they collect paper, plastic and metal packaging door-to-door on a monthly basis. It is planned to roll out this service across Sweden. You can register as a customer with TMR. The service is free of charge. Anyone can register their interest, regardless of where they live. Although the municipality has an obligation to inform about the service, it is not responsible for it, so all questions should be addressed to TMR.

TMR Pick-Up Service for packaging (external website) Link to external website. External link.

Landfill is nonhazardous waste that cannot be recycled, reused or incinerated. Some of the material is used as building and filling material at the Degermyran landfill.

The materials that end up in landfills are often composed of several different materials. Landfill can be left at Degermyran or one of our other recycling centres. At recycling centres there are designated places for different kinds of landfill: one for concrete and brick and one for other waste. Some of this waste ends up in the landfill at Degermyran, while some is used as building or filling material.

Examples of materials that go to landfill are windscreens and window pains, mirrors, plasterboard, fibreglass, mineral wool, optics, umbrellas and box spring mattresses.

You can leave your landfill at a recycling centre.

Concrete and brick are used as a covering material at the Degermyran recycling centre.

Concrete and bricks includes the following:

  • Roof tiles
  • Sanitary ware
  • Clinker
  • Tiles
  • Ceramics
  • Porcelain
  • Porcelain fuses

You can leave concrete and brick at your local recycling centre.

Waste is always generated during building work and demolition. It is important that this waste is correctly disposed of and that any materials that can be recycled are separated.

Separating building waste and demolition rubble

As of 1 August 2020, new rules apply to separating building waste and demolition rubble, both for professional contractors and private individuals. The new rules require that different types of building waste be sorted and stored separately at source, i.e. on the building site. The building activities covered by this requirement include construction, renovation, demolition and civil engineering works.

At a minimum, the following types of waste must be separated at source:

  • Wood
  • Mineral, e.g. concrete, brick, clinker, ceramics and stone
  • Metal
  • Glass
  • Plastic
  • Plaster
  • Combustibles

Requirements were already in place for separating the following at source:

  • Hazardous waste, electronics and oil.
  • Packaging such as plastic and corrugated cardboard.
  • Recycled paper such as advertising, newspapers and copier paper.

Packaging must be separated from other waste even if it consists of the same material.

The purpose of separating at source is to reduce the total amount of waste and to improve conditions for reuse and recycling in the building sector.


If different types of waste are joined or built-in in a manner that makes separation at source technically impossible, the materials are exempt from the requirement. This also applies if waste is so contaminated that, for example, there is a risk it will contaminate all separated material of the same type. Please contact Community Development and Environment for an assessment of whether your waste is exempted.


In individual cases, the Building and Environment Committee may grant a dispensation from the requirement to separate at source. This is only possible when separation is unfeasible or where the pros of doing so do not outweigh the cons. Please contact Community Development and Environment for advice on dispensation for your waste. Community Development and Environment charges a fee for processing applications according to the established municipal tariff.

You application for a dispensation should include the following: your name; company registration number or personal identity number, address, home/mobile telephone number and email; contact person and contact details; property unit designation (for the property were demolition rubble will be generated); a description of the type of work, planned measures and period when the work will be carried out; the type and estimated quantity of waste and which recycling centre or equivalent you intend to use; and a justification for why a dispensation from separating at source should be granted. Attach any materials reports and demolition permits.


Community Development and Environment has supervisory authority according to the new rules. Environmental inspectors carry out random inspections to ensure compliance with the new requirements for separating building waste and demolition rubble at source. You will be charged for inspections.

Reporting hazardous waste

All organisations that handle hazardous waste must submit a list of waste to provide certain information on the waste to the Waste Registry at the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. Almost all businesses produce some form of hazardous waste, whether that be electronics, batteries and fluorescent tubes or paint and chemical residues. The requirement applies regardless of how much hazardous waste is handled or the size of the company.

If you have any questions, please contact Customer Services on 0910 73 50 00.

Do you need a demolition permit or to submit a demolition notification?

Before knocking down a building, it is a good idea to find out if you need to apply for a demolition permit.

You need a demolition permit to demolish all or part of a building if it is in an area covered by a detailed development plan. A demolition permit is not normally required to demolish something that does not require a building permit, such as a shed.

In areas not covered by a detailed development plan, you need a demolition permit to demolish residential and commercial buildings, but not to demolish agricultural or forestry buildings, garages or other ancillary buildings to residential buildings.

Inspection plans for building and demolition measures

An inspection plan must be prepared for all building projects for which a building permit is required or that are subject to a notification obligation (e.g. newbuilds, renovations or demolitions).

The inspection plan shall contain information regarding:

  • the types of waste that the project might generate;
  • how you intend to deal with the waste;
  • how you intend to ensure that waste materials are recycled to a high level of quality; and
  • how you intend to handle hazardous substances safely and how they will be removed from site.

You do not need an inspection plan if, as a private individual, you are undertaking work such as replacing your kitchen, i.e., work that does not require a permit or notification. That said, you must still separate your waste at source according to the new rules.

Learn more about contaminated areas here External link.

In order to use excavated spoil and other waste for construction purposes, it must be as clean as possible so that there is no risk of environmental contamination. The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency has issued a handbook with guidelines on contamination levels that carry a notification obligation or that require a permit, see link below.

Notification is required when waste used for construction purposes may contaminate soil, bodies of water or groundwater, if the risk is slight. If the risk of contamination is significant, a permit is required from the county administrative board. If you have any questions about using waste for construction purposes, please contact Community Development and Environment via Customer Services on 0910 73 50 00 (key selection 5).

Residual waste is any nonhazardous waste that cannot be reused or recycled other than through energy recovery.

Residual waste was previously known as combustible waste. The term residual better describes the type of waste in question. Put simply, it is the waste left behind once we have separated everything that can be recycled.

Use the green bin for residual waste

Place residual waste in the standard rubbish sack you throw in the green bin, i.e., the container for anything left over once you have separated food waste, packaging, newspapers/magazines, electrical waste and environmentally hazardous waste. If you have separated everything that can be recycled by other means, there should not be much left to place in the standard rubbish sack – just as it should be.

Examples of residual waste include plastics (except packaging), wallpaper, hoses, carpet, rubber, leather, binders, shoes, foam rubber, bags and fabrics.

Bags for residual waste

Although the waste collection vehicle only collects the residual waste that fits into the green bin, you can buy special bags for any residual waste that doesn’t fit. Place this bag next to your rubbish bins the night before your waste is collected.

If you have any questions, please contact Customer Services on 0910 73 50 00.

Separated wood waste is chipped. The chips are then delivered to various heating plants for energy recovery.

Impregnated wood is considered hazardous waste and should be sorted separately. This is sent to incinerators equipped with special technology for flue-gas treatment for hazardous waste. It must therefore be kept separate from ordinary wood waste.

Metal waste is delivered to Kuusakoski AB for sorting, processing and recycling. These products provide important raw materials for smelting plants and foundries.

Examples of metal waste include:

  • Barbecues
  • Bicycles
  • Engine components
  • Snow shovels
  • Iron pipes

You can leave your scrap metal at any of the municipality’s recycling centres.

Bulk household waste is collected annually free of charge. As a private individual you can also transport your own bulk waste to one of our recycling centres and leave it there free of charge. You can also order a collection for a fee.

Learn more about bulk waste here External link.

Appliances are covered by the Swedish Ordinance concerning Producer Responsibility for Electrical and Electronic Equipment (SFS 2014:1075).

Appliances include the following:

  • Cookers
  • Washing machines
  • Dishwashers

Private individuals can leave their old appliances at any of the municipality’s recycling centres. Companies are required to leave their appliances at Degermyran.

Many household items contain substances that are hazardous to health and the environment. These items are considered hazardous waste and will degrade slowly or not at all. Be sure to leave all of your hazardous waste at a recycling centre so that it can be properly disposed of.

If you have any questions, please contact Customer Services on 0910 73 50 00.

Electronic waste covers all products that need electricity to work, either via a cord or battery.

Private individuals and businesses can leave electronic waste at recycling centres free of charge.

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