Sweden is Buying Garbage from European Neighbours

Sweden is buying waste from Norway and even Germany to run their incineration energy plants.

Autor*in Ajay Pal Singh Chabba -, 01.01.15

Sweden is buying waste from Norway and even Germany to run their incineration energy plants.

Waste is a much-needed fuel for Sweden right now, something they seemingly don’t produce enough of, leaving them with no other solution than buying waste from neighbouring Norway. This Scandinavian nation, with population over 9.5 million people, powers and heats around 2,50,000 homes from the incineration plants using waste as a fuel.

Sweden recycles over 99 percent of its total waste in one way or the other and less than even 1 percent makes it to landfill. Sweden has been incredibly successful with its recycling programme while about almost half of all household waste is burnt and turned turned into energy through the incineration plants. Even though this is quite an achievement, it has been an issue of concern for the plant owners in Sweden. The country’s citizens are not generating enough burnable waste to run the incineration plants, resulting in the import of 800,000 tonnes of refuse annually from Norway to keep the plants running as the country’s incineration capacity amazingly is more than then the country’s waste generation capacity (I wish this could ever be the case with my home country, India ).

Sweden benefits in more ways than one from this deal, mnn.com states: “Norway actually pays Sweden to take its excess waste, Sweden burns it for heat and electricity, and the ashes remaining from the incineration process, filled with highly polluting dioxins, are returned back to Norway and landfilled.”
Here are a few more facts for your information about Sweden’s waste-into-energy initiative:

  • In 2012, 2,270,000 tonnes of household waste was burnt, and that way turned into energy.
  • The first incineration plant was set up in Stockholm in 1904.
  • The 32 plants in Sweden today produce heat for 810,000 households and electricity for 250,000 private houses.
  • Heavy metal emissions have been reduced by 99 percent since 1985, even though Sweden emits three times more waste today.

Check out the audio from the Public Radio International (link attached below) to hear what senior advisor for the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, Ms. Catarina Ostland has to say about about the country’s future plans.

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