Sweden Recycles 99 Percent of Waste

Friday, October 24th, 2014
incineration facility malmo

“The rubbish incineration plant at Spillepengen, Malmö, Sweden” by jorchr, CC BY-SA

What a win ! Our rubbish removal specialists found out a glorious achievement in terms of waste management efficiency ! Sweden is doing something interesting. Less than 1% of their waste ends up in landfills. How? By recycling the waste they produce. However, there’s a catch: they recycle only half of it. The rest is being converted to energy through incineration. But that’s not an issue of efficiency. Incineration plants are not a bad thing and I will tell you why in a bit.

Sweden has 32 waste-to-energy incineration plants. And they burn a bit over 2 million tonnes per year. The numbers are high, but the facilities can handle even more. And what does Sweden do? Imports excess waste from other European countries.

And now onto the explanation of why this isn’t bad. Denmark is one of the countries that have adopted the way of the waste incinerators. What makes them better, though? The fact, that they are way cleaner than the regular incinerators. There are dozens of filters that catch a huge part of the pollution – dioxin, mercury etc. Just several years ago, that was not possible to achieve.

One of the obvious advantages of this way to recycle waste is that it makes the countries less reliant on gas and oil. Both of give out higher carbon dioxide emissions. The other is, that this is essentially a very cheap fuel alternative. And the fact that the fireplaces and barbecues at our homes probably release more dioxin than the incineration plants… it just speaks for itself.

Maishima Waste Treatment Center in Osaka

“Maishima waste treatment center Osaka” by Iignis, CC BY-SA

This is especially great for the items that cannot be recycled into useful items. And instead of letting the rubbish rot in landfills – they turn it into energy. And why not, when you both produce electricity and reduce greenhouse emissions? Denmark is currently operating 29 such plants and is creating 10 more, in different stages of progress. And, there is also Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands. There are about 400 incineration facilities throughout Europe overall.

As an absolute contrast, USA has only 87 waste-to-power plants. Citizens are still reluctant about building more of the incineration facilities. A study during 2009, conducted by E.P.A. And North Carolina State University, concluded that the waste-to-energy plants are the best way to get rid of household waste, that cannot be recycled in any way. And, as I said before – it not only reduces the greenhouse gas emissions, but also reduces the local pollution levels and produces electricity. All that with the advanced filters the European facilities are using. And yet, there are environmental groups that fight the idea.

What are your thoughts? Should we work towards these facilities, while getting near the “zero-waste” point? Or should we continue using the landfills? Our London house clearance service can be a great fuel for such plants!