Today, waste communication varies from country to country and in some cases from municipalities to municipalities. This can create confusion among citizens, and ultimately lead to ineffective waste management. Therefore, the Danish Waste Association, Local Government Denmark and the Danish Environmental Protection Agency in collaboration with the strategic design company Futu have developed a common pictogram system to be used for waste sorting all over Denmark. The pictogram system is currently being implemented in several Nordic countries and NCM Latvia is now, together with the NCM offices in Estonia and Lithuania looking to extend the project to the Baltic countries.

Baltic countries have high amounts of waste that ends up in landfillings, something that was highlighted by the project "Towards a Textile Circulation System in the Nordic and Baltic Countries" carried out in all Baltic countries. More specifically, in Latvia, there has not been an approach to develop a unified design or to involve citizens in the process until now, and for this reason the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development are highly motivated to move forward with waste pictograms at a national level in Latvia.

A standardisation for waste pictograms will not only benefit the citizens by making it easier to sort waste correctly, but it will also benefit producers in the way that a clear labelling will simplify the message on packaging. By streamlining the pictogramming in the region, we can ensure that citizens and industry encounter the same communication no matter where they are. For the respective governments, this project can be an opportunity to show best practice to the EU and other countries how the Nordic-Baltic region is leading the way for unified waste communication.

Circular economy is at the core of the EU’s green deal. The pictogram project is part of the solution for a very important area of the circular economy; namely the side-stream flows and waste management. By helping solve the communication and practical issues that are related to waste management, the project will be an important contribution to the Nordic Council of Ministers vision for a Nordic region as the world's most sustainable region.

The experience of implementing Danish waste pictograms in the Nordic countries was shared at the webinar “Tips & Tricks for the Baltics!” on 23 February with the aim to highlight the recent Nordic experiences with waste pictograms, to share the lessons learned and to highlight the different aspects of waste pictogram implementation. 

Cooperation partners: Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development in Latvia, Ministry of the Environment in Estonia, Ministry of Environment in Lithuania, Things Foundation in Estonia, Public Institution Mes Darom in Lithuania, Dansk Affaldsforening and Avfall Sverige.

Common symbol system to simplify sorting of packaging and other waste from Avfall Sverige on Vimeo.

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