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Sweden's waste-to-energy

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Example of Sweden's green city combustible waste facility.

Overview[edit]

Sweden's trash problem has become a growing issue. The country who is populated by over 9.5 million people has implemented a policy where they burn trash and convert it into energy to heat and provide energy to thousands of homes. "Today, only 1 percent of Sweden’s waste winds up in landfills. Half of it is recycled and 49 percent is burned in waste-to-energy facilities, up from 39 percent in 1999." The country has done so well in terms of recycling and converting their garbage into energy that they have become so reliant on this form of energy conversion that they have had to import trash from neighboring countries to fuel their waste-to-energy needs; Sweden imports over 700,000 tons of waste a year. [1] "Sweden is clearly the world leader in terms of recovering energy from waste. Each year its two million tonnes of rubbish, along with extra imports, are almost completely recycled, with only 4% of all waste going into landfill. This remarkable ability should act as an example to other countries that produce massive amounts of waste, most of which they send to be buried in bursting landfills. Sweden’s model truly offers a route to sustainable living." [2]

One thing that Sweden doesn't have to worry about is waste on the streets because only about 1% of their waste ends up in a landfill.



How it works[edit]

Waste-to-engery also known as energy-from-waste creates energy by burning all of their trash, and from there they are able to harbor the energy in the forms of either electricity or heat. [3] The process of collecting energy by incineration combusts the organic substances that are contained within garbage, then turning the garbage into ash and heat.


But is it really eco-friendly?[edit]

There has been a lot of controversy when it comes to whether or not Sweden's waste-to-energy system is actually eco-friendly, because they have to import tons and tons of waste just to sufficiently provide energy and heat for the country. The ash that is created can also be harmful and toxic, but Sweden has it under control. They have a series of filtration systems to help with the problem. Although there are some downfalls to the waste-to-energy cycle, the good far out weighs the bad. The outlook of Sweden’s garbage policy looks promising and has continued to be a thriving process for the country and for other neighboring countries as well. “’Waste-to-energy and recycling are compatible with one another,’ Kasper said. ‘Countries in Europe that utilize waste-to-energy have some of the highest recycling rates in the world.’ Sweden’s 50 percent recycling rate, for example, is more than double the U.S. rate of 24 percent. Even as Sweden imports waste, demand for fuel hasn’t cut into recycling rates. Avfall Sverige, the waste-to-energy association, projects that within a decade Sweden’s recycling rate will approach 60 percent, but it also expects the volume of waste generated to increase, too.” [4]

Sweden's paper recycling.

References[edit]

  1. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/30/world/europe/oslo-copes-with-shortage-of-garbage-it-turns-into-energy.html?_r=0
  2. http://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/Sweden-has-Run-out-of-Rubbish-for-Waste-to-Energy-Industry.html
  3. http://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Renewable-Energy/Sweden-Looks-to-Import-Garbage-for-Energy.html
  4. http://www.midwestenergynews.com/2013/10/17/is-burning-garbage-green-in-sweden-theres-little-debate/



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