The Danish pictogram system and its purpose

Since 2016, a unified pictogram system has been used in Denmark to simplify waste sorting. The system was developed as a collaboration between the Danish Waste Association, local authorities, the Environment Agency and designers. The goal was to create a unified waste sorting system valid throughout Denmark. The development of new pictograms was based on the pictograms previously used in Danish waste management. Thousands of citizens and waste experts contributed to the creation of the new system.

Currently, 91 different pictograms are in use in Denmark, and more will be added if necessary. Danish waste pictograms are not related to waste disposal codes (it is not planned to do so in the future) - the pictograms have been developed primarily to make it easier for people to sort waste.

The pictograms are mainly used to mark trash cans and containers, but they are also placed on packaging. The common system is used by 93 out of 98 local authorities in Denmark.

Adaptation of pictograms in Finland and Sweden

In 2019, a joint project with Sweden and Finland started. Sweden's goal is to get 50% of municipalities to join by 2025. Considering that the waste management systems of the countries differ from each other, the pictograms have been modified to match the Swedish system. The system adapted by Sweden can be found here:

Finland has also started adopting the Danish pictogram system. At the moment, their project is in the analysis stage. The goal of the Finns is to harmonize and adopt as many pictograms as are compatible with the Finnish waste management system. The project leader is KIVO Finland,

Use-adaptation of pictograms in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

A joint project with Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania started in February 2021. By April 2021, Estonia had completed the analysis of the adoption of pictograms, the purpose of which was to map the possibility of adapting the Danish pictogram system to the Estonian waste management system. In May and June, the design of pictograms suitable for Estonia was first adapted for local use. The first local governments were also involved. Estonia's lead partner is SA Things, whose creators are also known as the creators of the application. The main financier is the representative office of the Nordic Council of Ministers (Norden) in Estonia. The project partner is the Ministry of the Environment.