17 November 2019

Hafiz Adewuyi

Kaunas city municipality waste sorting guide - English

Two days ago (Friday), one day to the end of my sixth week in Kaunas, I observed with mild irritation the cluttered nature of my kitchen counter. The feeling was enough to drive me to do something about it this time. I started to pick up the items on the counter, one after the other, putting each one in its designated place. A few of the items on the counter were waste: paper towels, empty milk cartons and the likes.

In the process of deciding what to do with the empty milk cartons, my mind wandered back to my first major grocery shopping trip in Lithuania. A day after I arrived in Lithuania's capital city - Vilnius - Monika (a Lithuanian buddy) had graciously reached out to me and offered to be my grocery shopping guide. The grocery trip happened on my third evening in Kaunas, and the destination was the Maxima XXX store in the Kaunas Akropolis.

During that trip, when it was time to buy waste bags, I got to know that Monika - my human shopping guide - shared my affection for the environment and its conservation. The moment I reached for the default black bag that I am used to, she asked if we had waste recycling bins back at my apartment. As far as I had seen, the biggest trash can in my flat had only one compartment. Besides, it was only my second day in the apartment, so I had yet to walk around my apartment block to know where the garbage bins stood.

Seeing that I was struggling to answer her question, she quickly excused herself, saying it was fine if I got the regular bag for now and came back for the recycling color-coded bags when I was well-settled in. "As a makeshift, you can get the green, bio-degradable plastic bags for now, which are way better for the environment than the black ones", she advised. I agreed.

A roll of green eco-friendly (tautology?) garbage bags

This Friday, while decluttering my kitchen counter, I decided that it's about time I started doing my bit on this recycling thing. A few weeks ago during a walk round the block, I had spotted the regular garbage bins as well as the three large and brightly-colored bins in the area behind my apartment block. "No more obstacles now, apart from getting the color-coded garbage bags".

Kaunas municipality waste recycling bins on Kaunakiemio street, Centras, Kaunas
L-R: Green - Glass, Yellow - Plastics and metals, Blue: Papers and cardboards
Right away, a wrote a new to-do item into my small notepad to get waste recycling bags on my next visit to the grocery store. The next day though, before I could do that, I figured that I could simply use some of the plastic and paper bags which I have accumulated from different shopping trips. Each time any of the bags for the recyclables was full, I would simply transfer its contents into the appropriate municipality recycling bin, and re-use the same bag for as long as it holds.

The next and final step was to be sure I was sorting my waste correctly. The stickers on each of the recycling bins display some textual instructions for what was items are allowed and prohibited. Unfortunately, the text is in Lithuanian and I'm still at the beginning of my journey in learning the basics of the language.

Logically, I went online to find Kaunas waste sorting instructions. My search led me, first, to a webpage belonging to - what I assume is - the biggest waste-management company in Kaunas (Kauno Švara). There, I found 4 nice infographic flyers, with image and text instructions on what does and what doesn't fall into each of the four categories of waste: Glass (Stiklas), Plastics and Metals (Plastmase), Paper and cardboard (Popierius/Kartonas) and General household waste (Mišrios Komunalinės Atliekos).

While the images on the Kauno Švara infographics were useful in helping me realize my culpability for gross-misconduct in my recent waste-sorting activities at the office which has indoor recycling bins (I had been putting used paper towels into the Paper and cardboard section of the bin), the infographic text, again, was not of much use to me as it was also in Lithuanian.

Hence, I continued my search for waste sorting guides in Kaunas which did not take long to lead me to a PDF file containing the same sorting instructions on the Kaunas municipality recycling bins and on the Kauno Švara infographics, again in Lithuanian 😁. This was a huge step forward though, as it is not much of a hassle to copy text from a PDF into Google translate. I decided that after translating the Kaunas waste sorting PDF guide for myself, it would be useful to make the English version public as well. Ergo, here we are!

Here's the link to the English version of the Kaunas city municipality waste sorting guide, which I translated from Lithuanian to English with immense help from Google Translate. Hopefully, in the near future, one or two fellow tree-hugging, English-speaking foreigners in Kaunas find this useful.

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31 August 2023 at 07:22 delete

Thank you, we just moved to Kaunas and find this very useful!