There has been a lot of talk about waste sorting in recent years and discussion both among citizens and public administration and municipal institutions. But what exactly is waste sorting?


Waste sorting is the separation of recyclable materials from those types of waste that are no longer usable and are to be buried in a waste landfill.

By sorting waste we retain the clean environment, conserve natural resources and reduce energy consumption for manufacturing of new products.


However, it is important not only to sort the waste, but also to do it correctly so that the invested work is not wasted. The most important thing is to know and understand what we actually may and may not dispose of in each of the separate collection containers.  






In the first place, only waste for which it is intended and designated by the waste manager of each region may be disposed of in paper sorting containers. 


Under no circumstances should biological waste and liquid substances be disposed of in sorted paper waste containers. This would damage the entire contents of the container, making it unusable for recycling. Sharp or dangerous objects that could injure waste collectors and waste sorters also may not be disposed of.


It is just as important to understand what type of paper and paper products may or, vice versa, are not recommended to be disposed of with sorted paper waste.



Paper or paper products, paper packaging, cardboard boxes, newspapers, magazines, books, brochures, catalogues and other non-laminated advertising materials may be disposed of in the paper sorting container.


May not:

However, the attention should be paid to the fact that not all types of paper are recyclable, therefore, not everything may be disposed of with sorted paper waste. 

Non-recyclable paper products are:

– paper which is wet, dirty, with additions of food or other substances,

– wallpaper,

– laminated paper,

– napkins, toilet paper and paper towels (these products, even if they are clean, may not be disposed of with sorted paper waste),

– wax paper,

– paper dishes and cups,

– composite materials (materials made from a mixture of paper and other materials),

– paper packaging, the design and development of which uses more than one type of material, not just paper,

– photographs,


foil: it is also important to remember that FOIL IS NOT PAPER and products made from it, such as crisp packs, candy wrappers and foil gift wrapping paper, may not be thrown away with sorted paper waste,


– tetra pack: tetra packs are made from composite materials and cannot be used in the paper recycling process, therefore, tetra packs should not be thrown away in paper sorting containers.

However, there are waste managers who accept tetrapacks and invite the public to throw them away with sorted paper waste. This is usually indicated on the separate paper collection container. But if there are no indications, you should contact your waste manager who removes the sorted waste.






Before disposing of paper, there are a few steps you should take to increase paper sorting productivity:


Make sure the paper is clean

The main precondition for waste paper to be recycled is that it must be clean. Wet, dirty paper, paper with additions of food and other impurities must cannot be used for recycling.

Before disposing of the paper, remove all impurities from it. If paper is dirty and substance impurities cannot be removed from it, it must not be disposed of with sorted waste, since it may spoil the entire contents of the container, making the waste paper already in the container unusable for recycling.


Flatten as much as possible

Flattening sorted waste saves space both at home and in the container, thus the container can be emptied less frequently, which is cost-effective, air is not transported and less damage to the environment is caused. For example, four flattened cardboard boxes can be stored instead of one unflattened cardboard box.


Dispose of unpacked in a bag or in a transparent bag

Before emptying a separate collection container, the collector, as far as possible, reviews its contents and ensures that there are no objects in the container which should not be there. If there is a tied, non-transparent bag in the container, the collector cannot verify its contents. To avoid such misunderstandings, it is best to dispose of sorted waste in a transparent, open bag or unpacked in a bag.


Separate different materials before disposing of them

Sometimes the question arises as to what to do with paper products whose design includes elements made from other materials.

In case of this type of products, the materials should be separated from each other and disposed of in an intended separate collection container.

For example, the plastic inserts and straws of beverage packages should be separated from paper and disposed of in appropriate containers. In turn, there is no need to worry about metal staples – they will be separated in the course of separate processing.

The good news is that many waste management companies have already switched to a system where both paper, and plastic, and metal can be disposed of in one sorted waste container. These materials may be placed together, since they do not affect each other’s recycling. Together, they come to a sorting plant, where they are already sorted according to the type of material and then sent for recycling.

In general, indications of specific materials that may be disposed of in a single sorted waste container can be found on the containers themselves. However, if there are no instructions or they are unclear, you can contact your waste manager for information.





The term “sorting” has not been strange to Europeans and Latvians since long ago. However, despite the popularization of sorting and the efforts of local governments to introduce it in the daily life of every resident, a large part of Latvian residents is still not involved in waste sorting. 


According to “Zalais Punkts” surveys, the most common reasons are:

1. The habit of disposing of all waste in one container. 

2. Lack of understanding of the reasons why waste should be sorted.

3. There are no sorted waste containers near the place of residence.

4. Lack of confidence that sorted waste is indeed recycled.

5. The misconception that sorted waste must be paid for.


Looking at the results of the survey, it can be seen that people are used to being in their comfort zone. Of course, it is no secret that, to start something new, you have to pay attention to your daily habits, and they must be changed. However, once this is done, waste sorting can become a convenient daily process. In addition, waste sorting is evolving, it becomes more accessible and is provided closer and closer to home.