Sweden is going to put a stop to litter. From July 10, the Swedish police can by law hand out fines to those who deliberately throw their rubbish on the street or lawn. The price can go up quite a bit.

That became apparent on Wednesday as Sweden’s highest public prosecutor has set the penalties for causing a mess. Anyone caught by officers leaving behind one can, bottle, drink pack, fast food box or disposable barbecue must pay 800 crowns (approximately 88 euros). Failure to properly dispose of other packaging containing, for example, chemicals, paint residues or other environmentally hazardous substances or the dumping of a lot of rubbish will result in a fine to be determined or a prison sentence of up to one year.

Throwing away a single cigarette, a piece of chewing gum or a bus and train ticket remains unpunished. Unlike in the Netherlands, there has been a deposit on cans in Sweden since 1984. Just like bottles, these can be returned to any supermarket. According to the country’s recycling monopolist Returpack, 1.4 billion cans and plastic bottles are returned to Sweden every year. | © 2011 Marcel Burger for ANP News Agency (original published in Dutch on 22 June 2011)