While you’re enjoying glamping in Glastonbury there is a revolution of the recycling kind going on in Sweden, and it has now seen the Scandinavian country edge that one step closer to zero waste than ever. Staggeringly, less than 1% of Sweden’s household waste ends up in landfills today.
The Scandinavian country has developed its waste management to the point now where they have to import rubbish from the UK, Italy, Norway and Ireland in order to feed the country’s 32 waste-to-energy (WTE) plants, a practice that has been in place for years.
Annually, the average Swede produces 461 kilograms of waste, a figure that’s slightly below the half-ton average in Europe. However, what makes Sweden diverse is its use of a somewhat controversial program which sees the country incinerating more than two million tonnes of rubbish every year.
Additionally, this is a process that is responsible for converting 50 percent of the country’s rubbish into energy.
Sweden focused on developing alternatives to letting their waste sit in landfills, as leaking methane gas and other greenhouse gasses, is not good for the environment so they looked to reduce the amount of toxins seeping into the ground- and succeeded.
The obvious success in Sweden’s handling of rubbish wasn’t just an overnight phenomenon — these most recent results are the fruits of a cultural shift built up over decades of work that could set the way for other countries to change how they deal with their refuse in the future.
The video below outlines the basics of sustainable waste management in animated form, produced for the Östergötland County Council in Sweden, for the “Waste To Energy” EU project: