As crazy as this may sound, Sweden has run out of garbage. You heard me right, due to Sweden’s unprecedented success in their waste-to-energy programs; they have actually resorted to importing waste from other countries in order to maintain their energy conversion systems.
By incinerating waste in plants found throughout Sweden,energy is produced to power homes throughout the Scandinavian nation home to more than 9.5 million citizens. Sweden has now transformed trash into commodity by building a business around the service of dealing with the excessive waste in other countries.
England, for instance, has a major waste problem and simultaneouslyland-fills overflowing and the government inflicting higher taxes every year onlandfills. This predicament is introducing a lot of pressure to find solutionsfor waste. Much of the imported wastesent to Sweden come from England, but waste is also imported from Ireland andother countries. Norway, namely, isshipping in 80,000 tons of refuse per year.
Energy recovery from waste is a great step towardssustainability and Sweden’s unprecedented statistics are promising, inspiringand amazing. However, incinerating waste is not an ideal long-term solution forwaste or for sustainable energy production. In order for something to be trulysustainable, it must meet many criteria and one of those is that it must not bedestructive to the ecosystem.
Unfortunately, incinerating waste is highly damaging to theenvironment as the emissions from the plants alone soar well above governmentlimits and the ash produced from incinerating waste contains toxicdioxins. Waste incineration, though, isstill a dramatically better option than having miles upon miles of this preciousplanet covered in waste.
Catarina Ostland, senioradvisor for the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, suggests that Norwaymay not be the perfect partner for the trash import-export scheme, however. “Ihope 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” shetells PRI. “They don’t have any incineration plants or recycling plants, sothey need to find a solution for their waste”.
Sweden is known for its exemplary models of progressivesustainable practices. Their wastemanagement protocols are not entirely centered in waste energy conversion.Sweden is also famous for its extremely efficient recycling program. For Swedes, recycling is a way of life and asa result, less trash is produced relative to the rest of the world.
To truly solve this issue, the first step is for all of usto stop producing so much waste. Whatwill it take for us to collectively look into our cupboards, into our grocerybags, at our shopping spoils, etc to realize that we are drowning in unnecessarypackaging and that this waste is suffocating the precious planet and directlyharming organisms of all sorts?
It is indeed a sadstate of affairs, but Sweden is a remarkable example or progression andsustainability and their willingness to surge forward with innovative methodsand programs in an effort to leave a smaller carbon footprint in any waypossible is certainly commendable.