Gallery: Sweden Plans to Import 800,000 Tons of Garbage Each Year


We’ve heard of importing goods and raw materials, but importing trash? That’s exactly what Sweden intends to do in order to compensate for its trash shortfall. Sweden burns trash to create about 20 percent of its heat, but the Swedes are so diligent about recycling that the country simply isn’t generating enough waste to create the heat they need.

Sweden only sends about 4 percent of its waste to landfills. To put that into perspective, the United States landfills about 67 percent of its waste. While that is great for Sweden’s environment, it isn’t so good for their Waste-to-Energy program, which is capable of treating up to two million tons of household waste, which is converted into heat and electricity.

The solution is to import waste from Sweden’s neighbor, Norway. Not only is Sweden taking trash off of their hands, Norway will pay them to do so.  All told, Sweden plans to import about 800,000 tons each year, most of which will be used in the Waste-to-Energy program. Any toxic waste resulting from the burning will be returned to Norway. But in case you are thinking that Norway is getting the short end of the stick, don’t worry – they are happy with the agreement because exporting the trash is more economical than dealing with it.

In the future, Sweden hopes to be able to import from other countries that landfill a higher percentage of waste than Norway. “I hope that we instead will get the waste from Italy or from Romania or Bulgaria or the Baltic countries because they landfill a lot in these countries. They don’t have any incineration plants or recycling plants, so they need to find a solution for their waste,” says Catarina Ostlund, Senior Advisor for the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.

Via Treehugger

images © Vincent Jones and Mike Pennington


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  1. Michael Bauer-Leeb November 6, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    As economically intriguing and benficial such solution may seem, in the long run it is definitely not. Waste incineration is just fighting symptoms and all but tackling the underlying problem of a linear econmy dependent on exponential growth. Burning waste leaves 25% toxic residue behind, which has to be dealt with accordingy and quite costly. Further, burning trash means wasting huge amounts of energy. Just think of all the energy and material used to extract resources, manufacture and transport goods – hugely blown out the chimney. And for what? To start all over again extracting resources, manufacturing, and disposing of again and again. If we want to achieve real change we need to start reducing, reusing, and recycling heavily. We need to ask ourselves what we really need to live a good life, and we need to start thinking what world we want to pass on to our children and children’s children and start acting accordingly. More of the same will do us no good, I’m afraid.

  2. Seth Platt November 1, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    Waste Incineration is not Green

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