2020: Invisible waste

Did you know that to manufacture a smartphone weighing less than 200 grams and coming in a small package, an unbelievable 86 kilograms of waste are produced? What you see is not always the true heavyweight… “Invisible waste” refers to the large amount of waste generated during the manufacturing process of products. A big share of invisible waste cannot be recycled and ends up in landfills and incinerators. Along with the waste footprint come also the impact of the Co2 generated and a burdensome cost for climate. For a sustainable production and consumption, products must have a longer service life, be easier to repair and recycle, and ultimately be completely non-toxic the day they are recycled. Increasing product service life reduces the need for new production and thereby the quantity of waste produced through manufacturing.

NEW! Read more about the waste and climate footprint of products in this report published by Avfall Sverige in 2015 and now available in English.

What can I do about it?

This year, the EWWR challenges you to get informed and raise awareness on the huge amount of waste that we all unconsciously generate. We need to make this waste visible in order to make informed decisions when choosing which product to purchase, and take responsibility for our footprint. Producers, consumers, decision-makers, we all can take action to reduce the invisible waste. Extending the life of products by reuse and repair, buying second-hand, renting and sharing products rather than owning them, obtaining an eco-label and joining producer responsibility’s schemes… The list is long!

A set of tools have been developed to support you in learning and communicating about this theme. Do you dare to know what your real weight is?


You can download below the thematic poster on invisible waste. Use it to inspire others to take action for the EWWR! (Download in pdf or jpg)

Factsheets and infographics
  • Your stuff weighs a ton! Infographics on the invisible waste of a drill, a laptop and a pair of trousers. Source: Avfall Sverige, 2015
  • Getting to know ecolabels
  • Memory game on ecolabels
  • Digital clean-up: lighten your invisible footprint!
  • Circular design workshop guide by OpenIDEO Barcelona Chapter
  • Waste reduction quiz

Share these videos to make invisible waste visible! Click on the video titles to play them full screen.

The anatomy of action toolkit

A handy action set for everyday sustainable living developed by UN Environment and the UnSchool. The toolkit includes videos and infographics on five areas of action that can help achieving the Sustainable Development Goal: food, stuff, mobility, money and leisure. Check out the actions on STUFF and start reducing invisible waste. You can use all the tools to support your EWWR action and/or share them on social media with the hashtags #anatomyofaction #EWWR.

Anatomy of action


The invisible waste theme was inspired by two national campaigns of EWWR Coordinators: