A Guide to Sorting Waste

Why should waste be sorted?

The more developed a society is, the more waste it produces. This means that the amount of waste created increases over the years and Estonia or Tallinn are no exceptions. More waste means more consumption and waste of resources. Sorting and recycling waste is essential to slowing down this process. Doing this means that our next generations will also have the resources they need for life. Most of the waste created can be sorted at home. The more waste we sort and the more we recycle, the less waste we throw into containers and the less we have to pay for waste transport. All in all, sorting waste is cheaper for consumers. Most of the waste created in households consists of packaging, leftover food and paper. People should at least separate paper, packaging, leftover food and hazardous waste from other waste in order to save natural resources.
NB! When you put packaging in the bin, you pay double, because the price of packaging waste management has already been added to the product!

Rules of waste transport

Every apartment association or individual household has to enter into a waste management contract with a waste transport company. Waste containers must be emptied often enough to avoid overfilling and the emergence of bad odours and pests. Pursuant to the Waste Act, containers in densely populated areas must be emptied at least once a month. This is why a container of suitable size that corresponds to the quantity of waste created must be selected (residential houses are permitted to use bin bags).

How to sort waste?
The following must be put in the paper and cardboard container:

  • Newspapers, magazines, catalogues, advertising materials;
  • Notebooks, printed and blank stationary and drawing paper;
  • Envelopes, books without covers;
  • Cardboard boxes, paper bags and other clean paper packaging.

The following must not be put in the paper and cardboard container:

  • Soiled or wet paper and cardboard;
  • Household paper;
  • Used paper plates and cups;
  • Cardboard drink packaging, Clingfilm;
  • Foil and carbon copy paper.

NB! A container for paper and cardboard must be obtained for all registered immovables with at least 5 flats and for institutions and companies that create more than 20 kg of such waste per week. Waste paper created in residential buildings with fewer than 5 flats and residential houses should be taken to the waste station.

The following must be put in the container for biodegradable waste:

  • Meat and fish waste, fruit and vegetables, fruit and vegetable peels, bread, precooked food, bakery products and confectionery, cheese, butter and margarine and other solid food waste.
  • Household paper, tissues, coffee grounds, paper filters, teabags.
  • House plants and cut flowers.

The following must not be put in the container for biodegradable waste:

  • Cooking oil, milk, sour milk, soup, sauces and other liquid food and foodstuffs.
  • Liquids.
  • Large bones.
  • Clingfilm, metal, glass, ashes, cigarette butts, packaging, waxed and laminated cardboard and other non-biodegradable waste.

NB! A container for biodegradable waste must be obtained for all registered immovables with at least 10 flats and institutions and companies that create more than 20 kg of such waste per week.
Food waste created in residential buildings with fewer than 10 flats and in residential houses must be turned into compost in a composter on the grounds of the house or placed into a biodegradable waste container. We advise people who care about the environment to compost their food waste in a composter. What must be kept in mind is that food waste may be composted only in a closed composter and not on an open pile.
Garden and park waste (leaves, twigs, grass, etc.) may be composted on one's own grounds in an open pile or taken to the composting field (Rahumäe tee 5a).

The following must be put in a packaging container:

  • Plastic packaging: yoghurt or butter tubs; oil, ketchup and mayonnaise bottles; packaging of cosmetic products (e.g. cream jars, shampoo bottles); plastic dishes and boxes; plastic bags and Clingfilm; other clean plastic packaging.
  • Glass packaging: glass bottles without tax labels, glass jars, other clean glass packaging.
  • Metal packaging: tins, metal lids and tops of food and drink packaging, other clean metal packaging.
  • Drink cartons: clean milk, juice and yoghurt cartons.

The following must not be put in a packaging container:

  • Packaging that is soiled with food or half-full, plastic toys, packaging of hazardous substances (e.g. household chemicals), aerosol packaging (e.g. hairspray), window glass and glass sheets, lighting bulbs.

NB! There are approximately 300 public packaging containers in Tallinn where packaging can be deposited free of charge. If you put packaging waste in the same container as your mixed household waste, you pay double for its handling as the price of handing the packaging has already been added to the product.

Hazardous wastes that can be taken to civic amenity sites:

  • leftover oils and oil filters, oily sweeps
  • paint, glue, varnish and solvent leftovers in retail packaging
  • mercury lamps
  • medicines with expired use-by dates and unusable medicines, other medical waste (
  • chemical and pesticide waste
  • mercury thermometers and other waste that contains mercury
  • batteries

There are battery collection boxes for unusable batteries in every store that sells batteries. All pharmacies take back old medicines for free.

Broken home electronic devices:

old and unusable household electronics and home appliances, e.g. fridges, washing machines, TV sets, electric cookers, blenders, irons, hair dryers, radios, etc must be taken to civic amenity cites. They are accepted for free.

NB! Incomplete electronic devices are only accepted for a fee of 10 €/piece.

Find the locations of Civic amenity sites (CAS's) on the Tallinn map!

CAS's are closed on national holidays

Last updated: 15.01.2019