By Michael Smith (Veshengro)
Guest Writer for Wake Up World
Due to Sweden’s innovative waste-to-energy program and the highly efficient recycling habits of its people, this Scandinavian nation faces an interesting dilemma. They have run out of trash.
The country’s waste management and recycling programs are second to none as only four percent of the nation’s waste ends up in landfills.
By contrast, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, over half of the waste produced by American households ends up in landfills and things are not better in Britain either. To add to that the fact that many things that are collected in kerbside recycling also end up in the same place as there are no means to recycle them, there is a glut in the market for recyclables or they are “contaminated” and thus cannot be (easily) recycled.
Because Sweden manages waste so effectively and then use what remains to partly power their country, they are now living an environmentalist’s dream; a shortage of garbage. Can you believe that?
However, environmentalists in Britain demand that our waste be recycled and not burned. But Friends of the Earth and other groups say that we must learn to recycle the materials that invariably remain ‘un-recyclable’ via current process. For environmental reasons, incineration must not be done, they say. And now Sweden is showing the world how it can be done.
In order to continue fueling the waste-to-energy factories that provide electricity to a quarter of a million homes and 20% of the entire country’s district heating, Sweden is now resorting to importing trash from the landfills of other European countries.
In fact, those countries are paying Sweden to do so. Yes, you read that correctly, countries are paying to get rid of a source of viable fuel they themselves produced so that Sweden can continue to have the energy output they need. Instead they could be utilising the same waste as an energy source at home. This is madness, if you ask me.
One does not have to be an economist to know that this is one highly enviable energy model. And besides the economic benefit, the Swedish system of sustainability clearly has vast environmental benefits.
Apart from the traditional recycling programs that are being used, Sweden’s waste-to-energy system ensures minimal environmental impact from the country’s waste. And thus the country’s extremely efficient circle of consumption, waste management, and energy output provides the current global population and coming generations inspiration and guidance towards a more sustainable future.
The United States and Britain could learn a great deal from Sweden and how they do things but, alas, it is in Britain so-called environmentalists actually block any attempts of doing this, eg. production of energy from waste by burning it.
Rather some power stations in Britain are playing with burning biomass in the form of pellets. In the main, they have to be imported from as far afield as the USA and are, more often than not, made from virgin wood rather than waste wood. Other power plants are fueled by biomass in the form of specially grown “crops” such as willow, eucalyptus, or miscanthus – plants that use up land areas better used for the growing of food.
We must change and we must change now. As we move toward energy security and the reduction of the waste going to landfill, we need to consider models that work in other countries, and implement them.
Previous articles by Michael:
- 1.3 Billion Tons of Food are Wasted Globally Every Year
- Making Use of Juicer Pulp Residue
- Australian Government Set to Seize Money from Citizens Bank Accounts
- Growing Edible Weeds
About the author:
Michael Smith (Veshengro) is the editor of Green (Living) Review.