Sweden Runs Out of Garbage

Wednesday September 18, 2013

True Activist. Imagine a world where pollution is a non-issue, cities are pristine, healthy environments to live in, and little to no entanglements from discarded trash injures wildlife or clogs the oceans. In Sweden, this is almost a reality, yet it’s causing a paradoxical predicament for the recycle-happy country that relies on waste to heat and provide electricity to hundreds of thousands of homes.

The Scandinavian nation of more than 9.5 million citizens has run out of  garbage; while this is a positive – almost enviable – predicament for a country  to be facing, Sweden now has to search for rubbish outside of its borders to  generate its waste-to-energy  incineration program. It’s namely Norway officials who are now shipping in  80,000 tons of refuse annually to fuel the country with outside waste.

The population’s remarkable pertinacious recycling habits are inspiration for  other garbage-bloated countries where the idea of empty landfills is scarce. In  fact, only 4 percent of all waste in Sweden is land-filled, a big win for the  future of sustainable living. By using its two million tons of waste as energy  and scrapping for more outside of its borders, this country is shown in  international comparisons to be the global leader in recovering energy in waste.  Go Sweden.

Public Radio International has the whole  story. This (albeit short-term) solution is even highly beneficial for the  Scandinavian country; Norway pays Sweden to take its excess waste, Sweden burns  it for heat and electricity, and the ashes remaining from the incineration  process, filled with highly polluting dioxins, are returned back to Norway and  land filled.

Catarina Ostland, senior advisor for the Swedish Environmental Protection  Agency, suggests that Norway may not be the perfect partner for the trash  import-export scheme, however. “I hope that instead we will get the waste from  Italy or from Romania or Bulgaria, or the Baltic countries because they landfill  a lot in these countries” she tells PRI. “They don’t have any incineration  plants or recycling plants, so they need to find a solution for their  waste”.

There’s definitely something to be said about being ‘green’. Regardless of  its sourcing, hopefully Sweden’s impeccable job of reducing its carbon footprint  may serve as an example to other areas of the world that have more than enough  trash to utilize and put to sustainable use.


Source: True Activist

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