Swedish Households Run on Garbage They Produce; Only 1% Ends Up in Landfills

By: | September 13th, 2016

Image courtesy sweden.se

Recycling has become part of daily life in Sweden. Sweden has, in fact, turned it into a profitable business rather than sending garbage to landfills.

Nearly 99 percent of all household waste is diverted

Sweden produces around 4.4 million tons of the household waste every year, but only about one percent of this garbage ends up in landfills. In comparison, the U.S. sends 55% of its waste to landfills each year.

The major portion of the waste is used in feeding the country’s 32 waste-to-energy (WTE) plants to generate electricity. Garbage is burned to produce steam which spins turbines to generate electricity.

More garbage means more energy for Swedish power grids

Sweden is so efficient in managing its waste that it has started importing garbage from neighboring countries. It imports nearly 700,000 tons of waste from other countries; most of the import is coming from Britain and Norway.

Although the idea of utilizing trash for energy might look good, the method used is not a clean form of energy production. According to US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), incineration plants or waste-to-energy (WTE) plants put out more CO2 per megawatt generated than burning coal.

Incineration is not recycling, so it would actually be wrong to say that Sweden recycles 99% of its waste.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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