Which country has zero garbage?

Of all the countries in the world, Sweden takes the top spot in terms of aiming for a zero waste society. They take their recycling programs many levels higher from dumping rubbish in landfills to recycling and reusing.

Taking recycling to the next level

The thing about recycling is that you just need to learn how to sort your garbage. It’s a learning curve and should just become a part of our daily lives. 

Part of it is thinking about what kind of environment our children are going to have in the future. If we make our motive a little more personal, we are bound to be more successful in our objective to make the world a better, greener place.

Sweden’s approach to recycling focuses on using products that can be 100 percent reused. This is something that other countries could do to make recycling even more successful in other countries. Swedish campaigns call it the cradle-to-cradle approach, which involves using products that can be completely reused.

Road to zero garbage needs lifestyle change. 

The forefront of this movement is started from Stockholm’s busy design industry. Beteendelabbet is Swedish for “behavior lab”, which aims to find innovative solutions to be sustainable. Ida Lemoine is the founder of Bateendelabbet. 

Despite the natural craving for convenience, we should remember never to sacrifice nature for our comfort. Lemoine says we need to share and reuse all kinds of gadgets, clothes and furniture, even workspaces and homes.

In 2017, the Swedish government even reformed the tax system to enable people to get cheaper repairs on used items. 

  How can we get rid of landfills?

Swedish clothing giant H&M operates a recycling scheme where customers get discounts when they hand in old clothes. Meanwhile, researchers are working on finding new clothing materials that are less damaging to the environment.

Stepping up from recycling

A good starting point is to look at how to change habits and everyday behavior. Sweden’s strategy consists of using the concept of nudging, making small changes to people’s surroundings and lifestyles to help them live sustainably.

As consumers, we can do so much to make a huge difference. We can start with eating less meat, flying less, and rethinking before we ever throw stuff away. They may look like baby steps, but if we’re committed enough, it’s a good place to start.

Sweden also has a deposit system for cans and bottles. That system gives money back to people each time they recycle. 

Each year, the country is able to recycle 1.8 billion bottles and cans that would otherwise be thrown away using the so-called pant system. It even has its own verb in Swedish, panta.

Key figures on Sweden’s recycling program

  • 4,783,000 tonnes of household waste was managed in Sweden in 2017, which are equals to 473 kilos per person per year.
  • 50 percent of the household waste was turned into energy.
  • 1,850 million items are recycled in the pant system each year, either where people get money back for empty cans and bottles.
  • 85 percent of bottles and cans were recycled in 2017 – 90n percent is the government target.
  • 69 percent of all packaging was recycled in 2017.
  What material takes the longest to decompose?

2020 Swedish food waste target

The government of Sweden mapped out a target food waste for 2020, with an objective to use 50 percent of food waste as a natural fertilizer. Meanwhile, another 40 percent will be used to generate waste.

Common questions about the country with zero garbage

Is zero waste possible?

Yes. The people from Kamikatsu, Japan prove that it is indeed possible. They are in town completely free of waste and may have a few lessons for all of us.

They all have been told how important it is to follow the 3R’s: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. But do we actually know why, or even how to do it. However, because of the severity and complexity of there are now more than 3 R’s of recycling. 

  • Refuse. Don’t buy something you don’t need.
  • Reduce. Limit how much of something you are using.
  • Reuse. Repurpose things instead of just throwing them all away.
  • Recycle. Sort out your trash and put away what you can recycle.
  • Repair. Try fixing what’s broken instead of just throwing them away.
  • Rot. Compost of natural materials.

Which country has the best waste management?

Sweden comes first with zero-waste attempts, but Germany still tops the world’s best waste management systems. They are able to recycle a whopping 68 percent of accumulated wastes.

What is the most wasteful country in the world?

Recent research shows that the US Virgin Islands is the world’s most wasteful country. 

Producing as close to zero waste as possible has many benefits to society and the earth as a whole. Raising efforts to minimize waste production does not only reduce pollution but also produces less waste. This happens because the current amount of waste can be reused and recycled again.

  What are the three methods of waste disposal?

There are many ways to produce zero waste. Many nations of the world have started trying to reduce waste production. If we can keep up the momentum and stay committed, we may just win the war against the global garbage crisis.


We have to rethink how we are doing it all. It is important to consider our footprint! Susan has been writing on this blog since 2020, but it has been on her mind for a lot longer!

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