How to sell, recycle, or (safely) throw away your stuff in Sweden

How to sell, recycle, or (safely) throw away your stuff in Sweden
You'll find somewhere to dispose of most things sustainably in Sweden, but it can sometimes be complicated to find out exactly where. Photo: Simon Paulin/imagebank.sweden.se
Whether you're moving house or just having a clear-out, at some point in Sweden you'll find yourself needing to get rid of things. Here's how to do it in a climate-friendly way.

Re-selling

If you’ve got items that you no longer want but still have some life in them, one option is to sell them secondhand. Sweden has a lively loppis (flea market) culture, so you could book a table at a local market (this usually costs a small fee) or even set up your own if you have access to a garden or courtyard in a well-trafficked area.

A lower effort option is to use a site like Sellpy, Blocket or Facebook Marketplace to advertise your old items.

Sellpy accepts a wide range of secondhand belongings ranging from clothes to sports equipment and gadgets, and they will even collect it from your home and manage the entire photography and sales process – the downside is you have less control over the sales price.

On Marketplace or Blocket (the former is free, the latter charges a fee per ad depending on the item category), you need to create the description and photo yourself and arrange with potential buyers how they will pay you and how they’ll collect the items or have them delivered. On Facebook, you can often find local buy and sell groups (try searching for your city or neighbourhood plus “köp och sälj” or “loppis”) where you can advertise your stuff directly to people in your neighbourhood.

As for items with a higher price tag, you may be better served finding specialised shops to take them in. Many bike shops will buy good quality secondhand bikes, for example, and some secondhand or vintage clothes shops will buy your old things. The same goes for antiques shops or used bookshops if you have items of value to collectors.

A yard sale or loppis is a fun family activity that helps the environment and could give you a cash boost. Photo: Aline Lessner/imagebank.sweden.se

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Donate

Check out your local charity shops, such as Röda Korset (the Swedish Red Cross), Stadsmissionen, and Myrorna, as these often accept used items from clothes to books to furniture. Just make sure to check which items they are accepting in advance, and that everything is in the condition requested, so that you can be sure your gift will end up helping.

Facebook can also be a good place to give away to people in your community (search bortskänkes and your neighbourhood or add it to Marketplace with a 0 kronor price tag). Consider online groups for students too; if you’re in a town or city with a university, there will be thousands of new arrivals each semester, many needing to kit out an apartment on a tight budget.

One person’s trash is another’s treasure, so it’s always worth checking if someone can make use of your old belongings before you send them to landfill, even if they seem worthless to you and aren’t in a condition that charity shops would accept. Artists or preschool teachers, for example, may be able to use some types of rubbish for arts and crafts, or someone with a DIY hobby could be prepared to upcycle your old furniture or fix your battered bike.

Recycle

Sweden has a reputation for being thorough in its recycling policies, and you should have easy access to recycling bins for paper, cardboard, plastic, metal and glass either in your housing association if you live in an apartment which has arranged this, or elsewhere in your neighbourhood. In Gothenburg, you can also order collection of paper, plastic or metal recycling from your door for free.

Your local municipality will have recycling centres (återvinningscentraler or återbruk) where you can take large amounts of junk in one go. You can double check online what your local centre will accept, but it will typically include old clothes and textiles, bikes, furniture and household appliances, and more, and it’s usually free for private individuals to drop things off (but often not for tradespeople or a third party, which means you can’t ask a moving company to take care of this for you, although you may be able to use an app such as TipTapp).

Here are the details for recycling centres in Stockholm (there are also temporary pop-up recycling centres – click here to find out when there will be one near you), Gothenburg (there’s also a recycling barge which makes stops along the river – click here to see its schedule) and Skåne. Note that the company in charge of waste management in Skåne has a page where you can search for different items (in Swedish) and find out where you should take them.

In Stockholm, Gothenburg, you can also order collection of bulky rubbish to be recycled correctly, which saves you time and is especially handy for those without a car, but it does cost money. 

Old clothes and textiles

What about those clothes and blankets that are so worn you don’t think anyone else will use them? They still don’t have to go to waste.

If you are sending items to be resold through Sellpy, you can request an additional bag to submit fabric to be directly recycled. You can only send in one small bag of recycling for every larger bag of items for sale, but there’s no cost involved.

The H&M group of stores also accept bags of clothes or fabric to be recycled (any fabric will do, it doesn’t have to have been bought at a H&M Group shop). Bring as many bags as you like to your local H&M, Monki or &OtherStories, and you’ll get a discount card to use in store in return.

And many animal shelters are on the lookout for old bedding and towels. Try searching djurhem, hundhem or katthem to see if there are shelters in your area looking for donations.

Environmentally dangerous rubbish

Some common household items like lightbulbs, paint, and cleaning fluids are hazardous to throw away with your household rubbish, so need to be disposed of carefully.

These should be taken to miljöstationer, which you can find at the main large recycling centres, but often also in petrol stations or supermarkets which may be more convenient as the larger centres tend to be on the outskirts of cities and towns.

Here’s a list of the locations in Stockholm (the capital region also has mobile miljöstationer which travel around the city – click here to see when they will be near you or to sign up for an SMS when they’re nearby), Gothenburg (the stations are mostly located at ports, and there are also mobile miljöstationer – check their timetable here). In Skåne, if you can’t get to a recycling centre, check the schedule of the Farligt Avfall-bilen (Dangerous Rubbish truck) where you can leave these items.

Some Clas Ohlson stores in central Stockholm (at Drottninggatan 53 and Hamngatan 37) also accept this type of waste, as well as small electrical products, and Stockholm has six other locations in supermarkets around the city where you can dispose of hazardous waste or small electrical products at a “Samlaren” or secure waste container (see the list here). In Gothenburg there are even more Samlaren locations (see the map here), and Skåne too (see the map here).

Batteries are also hazardous waste, and there’s usually a battery disposal bin at your local recycling bins, and in some larger shops, where you can throw them away safely without needing to go to a miljöstation.

In many places you can sign up to SMS alerts to be notified when the ‘hazardous waste truck’ comes to town, to get rid of old products and electricals safely and conveniently. Photo: Sofia Sabel/imagebank.sweden.se

Electrical rubbish

The mobile miljöstationer and Farligt Avfall-bilen should be able to accept old electrical products up to the size of a standard microwave, while at Samlaren locations you can leave smaller electricals (think old mobile phones or electric toothbrushes) but there are other options for disposing of old electricals too. 

Did you know that any store selling electrical products is legally obliged in Sweden to accept electrical waste? All you need to keep in mind is that the type and volume of waste you can leave depends on the size of the store. In general, larger electronics stores need to accept any old electricals that are smaller than 25 centimetres, but at smaller stores, you may only be able to hand in an old product when you are buying a new one of an equivalent size and type. 

Old cosmetics

Cosmetic products like aerosols, hair sprays, nail varnish, and others, can often be given in to shops that sell them, such as some branches of Kicks and Åhlens, as well as the miljöstationer

Old medicines

Got expired or no longer needed medicine or pills? These should not be flushed down the toilet or disposed of with your normal rubbish. Pharmacies will accept them for free and ensure they are disposed of safely.

Food and drinks

Food can be difficult to donate to a good cause in Sweden due to regulations on food traceability. If you work for a company like a restaurant or grocery chain, you can donate unopened food to the charity Stadsmissionen which operates throughout Sweden and supports people living in poverty, but at the time of writing this was not an option for private individuals. In Gothenburg, one option is to donate food to one of six Solidarity Fridges in the city, from where it will be picked up by anyone who needs it.

The app Olio makes it possible to donate food to people in your area. The rules of the app are that the food should be good enough to eat, and you need to state the best before date, but you can even donate opened items this way as long as it’s safe and you find someone willing to take it.

Systembolaget will always give you a refund if you return unopened alcohol along with the receipt, as part of the alcohol monopoly’s stated commitment to reducing alcohol consumption. 

Glasses

Got old pairs of glasses lying around for an outdated prescription or style? The Synoptik brand of opticians works with charity Opticians Without Borders, so you can donate your old pairs at any store (wherever they were bought originally). Specsavers Sweden usually does annual collections for its own similar initiatives, but these are time-limited.

Currency

Forex currency exchange shops usually accept foreign coins to be donated to Save the Children. Another option here is to ask around or post on a local Facebook group to see if you can give the money to someone who will be travelling to that country soon.


Member comments

  1. Oh, I wish this article had covered PANT. I’ve heard that one should be able to get cash for PANT, but my local Coop & Lidl will only allow the use of kvittot to offset a grocery purchase. I might be able to take in 30 kr in PANT and only buy a 10 kr something to get 20 kr back in change, but that is gaming the system, which I’d rather not do if there’s just a way to get cash. If any body has info/ideas I welcome them! BTW, I’m in Skåne. Tack!

    1. Hi MC, it’s optional for stores to be part of the pant system, so I’m afraid it is in the end up to your local Coop and Lidl to decide whether to hand out cash or allow you to use it to buy something in the store.

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