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Squeaky Clean Sweden

by | Feb 24, 2023 | Blog

Sweden is often hailed as a paragon of environmental sustainability with a reputation for being one of the greenest countries in the world. However, despite many achievements in waste management, recycling, renewable energy, and conservation, Sweden is not immune to litter and pollution. Like other developed countries, Sweden must deal with the environmental impacts of industrialization, urbanization, and human consumption while finding sustainable solutions. Here are some statistics about plastic, pollution, and litter in Sweden:

  • Litter: According to the Keep Sweden Tidy Foundation, cigarette butts are the most littered item in the country, followed by chewing gum and candy wrappers.
  • Marine litter: The Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management estimates that 10,000 tonnes of garbage is tossed in the country’s water sources each year. Plastic items like bags, bottles, and fishing nets are the most common types of marine litter.
  • Microplastics: The Swedish Environmental Research Institute found that microplastics are present in many environments throughout Sweden, including surface waters and sediments. Tire and textile fibers are the most common sources of microplastics.
  • Plastic waste: According to Eurostat, Sweden produced around 107 kg of plastic waste per person in 2019. This is lower than the EU average of 130 kg per person, and significantly lower than the USA average of 221 kg per person!


Sweden has one of the highest recycling rates in the world, with more than 99% of household waste being recycled or incinerated for energy recovery. Additionally, there are several clean-up groups and initiatives that are working to address the issue of litter and plastic pollution. Here are just a few examples of eco-friendly groups in Sweden: 


  • Håll Sverige Rent: a national non-profit organization working to prevent littering and promoting a cleaner, healthier environment. Håll Sverige Rent organizes clean-up events, education programs, and outreach campaigns to raise awareness about the impacts of litter and plastic pollution. 
  • Kuststädarna: a network of local clean-up groups that are focused on cleaning up the coastlines of Sweden. Kuststädarna groups organize regular beach clean-ups, educational activities, and public events to engage the local community in their mission of a cleaner, healthier Sweden. 
  • CleanSea: a non-profit organization reducing plastic pollution and protecting marine life in Sweden’s coastal areas. This group organizes beach cleanups, promotes environmental education, and sells bracelets made from recycled plastic to support its operations. 

Let’s take a moment to highlight CleanSea, since their story is the exemplary motivation we need to adopt around the world for an eco-friendly future. Two Swedish teenagers, Lukas and Mikaela Julher, were passionate about protecting the oceans and Swedish coastlines from plastic pollution. CleanSea was born, and the organization has since grown to become a popular movement with many volunteers participating in beach cleanups across the country.


CleanSea raises awareness about the impact of marine litter and advocates for policies to reduce plastic pollution. They work with local businesses, schools, and other organizations to promote sustainable practices and responsible waste management. They also make bracelets from recycled materials to raise funds to support their operations—1 bracelet removes 1 kilo of litter from the ocean! The bracelets are sold on their website and in various retail stores in Sweden; you can order your bracelet here


In addition to beach cleanups and bracelet sales, CleanSea conducts educational activities and outreach programs to engage the public in their mission. They organize workshops, lectures, and other events to raise awareness about the issue of marine litter and its impact on the environment and wildlife. CleanSea also collaborates with other organizations – both in Sweden and around the world – to reduce plastic pollution and promote sustainable practices. They’ve even worked with the Swedish government to implement policies and regulations that reduce marine litter!


CleanSea is run entirely by like-minded volunteers and is a great example of a community-driven initiative that is making a real difference in the fight against plastic pollution. To date, they’ve removed 29,000 kg of trash from the ocean! Their work is inspirational and has the potential to create real change in the way we think about waste and the impact on the environment – both from humans and our plastic waste pollution. 


It is inspiring to see how a (sea)grassroots movement can make a huge impact in protecting our oceans and promoting sustainable practices. To learn more about CleanSea or to join their clean up crew, visit their website. https://www.cleansea.co 


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