“Hur langt tills redan?”
The man looks at me, an expression of, first, confusion, and then amusement. “About thirty minutes.” He says. Perfect English.
I turn and drag my two bags of glass bottles away from the store.
For weeks, I have been proudly separating rubbish into different bags: glass here, paper here, food here, metal here, proper rubbish here. And then someone tells me,
“Ja, except food it all becomes part of the same. We drive some distance to recycle these things sometimes. But it does seem not right to get in a car to get there.”
OK, fine. At least I know how to get rid of bottles. In the entrance to our local Ica (corner shop with tonnes of food), there is a fancy looking machine that I’ve seen people post bottles into. It gives you money off your shopping too, so I’m totally trying that!
But when I get there, some dude is fixing it, which is why I ask him what I think means, ‘how long until it’s ready?’ Unknowingly, what I actually say is, ‘how far until already’, which brings us back to the start of my story.
Thirty minutes later, I trot back. Ignoring the instructions (which I can’t understand anyway), I post my first bottle into the machine. The conveyer belt behind the bottle hole starts flashing red and bleeping. It spits the bottle back. Huh? This is what I saw a girl doing yesterday! I try again, and again … and again. It does the same thing. People look over. They’re frowning. I huff. Trying to conceal the amount of wine bottles in my bag, I enter the store and track down an assistant.
“Talar du Engelska?” I ask.
“Talar du Engel-ska?”
Her eyebrows crinkle.
“Oh! Yes.” She smiles. “What can I do for you?”
She takes me to the machine and demonstrates that my bottles are not Ica bottles. Because they are not a certain lightness and strength, the machine will not take them. Our conversation acquires a little audience. I try to ignore them.
“Tack!” I say, and I stomp away.
Outside the flat, I tie up the bags and hurl them straight into the ‘proper rubbish’ bin.
Fact: 52% of the energy produced by Sweden comes from renewable sources.
English refuse ends up here!
After this experience, I’m delighted to discover that Sweden recycles over 99% of the household waste the country produces. They actually import rubbish from other European countries to incinerate it to produce heat and electricity for a vast number of homes. According to this link, there’s a recycling station close to every residential area, but to keep at their 99% stat, surely all unsorted rubbish must be sorted. I guess we should help them out with that. I should try and track down my local recycling station!