There’s a “recycling revolution” happening in Sweden – one that has pushed the country closer to zero waste than ever before. In fact, less than one per cent of Sweden’s household garbage ends up in landfills today.
The Scandinavian country has become so good at managing waste, they have to import garbage from the UK, Italy, Norway and Ireland to feed the country’s 32 waste-to-energy (WTE) plants, a practice that has been in place for years.
“Waste today is a commodity in a different way than it has been. It’s not only waste, it’s a business,” explained Swedish Waste Management communications director Anna-Carin Gripwell in a statement.
Every year, the average Swede produces 461 kilograms of waste, a figure that’s slightly below the half-ton European average. But what makes Sweden different is its use of a somewhat controversial program incinerating over two million tons of trash per year.
It’s also a process responsible for converting half the country’s garbage into energy.
“When waste sits in landfills, leaking methane gas and other greenhouse gasses, it is obviously not good for the environment,” Gripwell said of traditional dump sites. So Sweden focused on developing alternatives to reduce the amount of toxins seeping into the ground.