Humans produce an astonishingly massive amount of trash, which itself isn’t bad for the environment. What is bad for the environment is how we tend to dispose of this trash, such as throwing it all into landfills. Not only are landfills smelly, noisy, and a breeding ground for disease-spreading vermin, they also emit greenhouse gases and toxic chemicals.
The amount of waste that we throw into landfills has been brought down by recycling, but a significant amount still gets dumped into them every year. However, Sweden has shown the world that it doesn’t have to be this way. While Swedish people produce the same amount of waste as other Europeans, less than one percent of trash actually ends up in landfills.
This impressive recycling efficiency is due in large part to the country’s thirty-two waste-to-energy (WTE) plants that are setup across Sweden. Over two million tons of trash, around half of the waste produced in the country annually, are incinerated at these plants every year, and have been in operation for several years.
“A good number to remember is that three tons of waste contains as much energy as one ton of fuel oil, so there is a lot of energy in waste,” Göran Skoglund, spokesperson for Öresundskraft, one of the country’s leading energy companies, explains. That means that the two million tons of waste incinerated each year produces around 670,000 tons worth of fuel oil energy. Sweden even helps to clean up other countries in the EU by importing their trash and burning it.
Read more about the story at The Huffington Post.