Sweden’s waste-to-energy program has been around since the 1940s, treating 2 million tons of trash every year. Incinerating this trash heats 810,000 homes and provides electricity to 250,000 homes. However, since Sweden’s residents are so diligent about recycling, with only 4% of annual waste actually ending up as trash, there is now not enough trash to provide heat and power. The solution? Import trash.
According to Public Radio International, Sweden has started importing 800,000 tons of trash every year from surrounding countries. Norway is one of these countries, and Sweden actually pays Norway to take its waste. Once the trash is incinerated, apparently with increasingly lower emissions, harmful dioxins in the ashes become a serious environmental pollutant that needs to be landfilled. This part of the product is exported back to Norway.
Image CC licensed by wkgold: Recycling station in Stockholm