Models of Sustainability: Sweden’s Waste-To-Energy Program

Models of Sustainability: Sweden's Waste-To-Energy Program

Due to Sweden’s innovative waste-to-energy program and highly efficient recycling habits, the Scandinavian nation faces an interesting dilemma. They have run out of trash. Sweden’s waste management and recycling programs are second to none as only four percent of the nation’s waste ends up in landfills. By contrast, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, over half of the waste produced by U.S. households ends up in landfills. Because the Swedish manage waste so effectively and then use what remains to partly power their country, they are now living an environmentalist’s dream; a shortage of garbage.

In order to continue fueling the waste-to-energy factories that provide electricity to a quarter of a million homes and 20 percent of the entire country’s district heating, Sweden is now importing trash from the landfills of other European countries. In fact, those countries are paying Sweden to do so. Countries are paying to get rid of a source of fuel they themselves produced so that Sweden can continue to have the energy output they need. Aside from the economic benefit, Sweden’s system of sustainability clearly has vast environmental benefits. Their waste-to-energy system ensures minimal environmental impact from the country’s waste. Sweden’s extremely efficient circle of consumption, waste management, and energy output provides the current global population and coming generations inspiration and guidance towards a more sustainable future. They represent one ally of many who understand the need to live sustain-ably and who fully commit to doing so.

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Four Wheels to Freedom

Afsana is a female professional driver in Bangladesh trained by BRAC as part of its “Women Steering Forward” program. Despite opposition from family members, Afsana’s husband supported her career path. “For me, it’s like going out for battle in the street every morning, fighting this patriarchal monopoly,” says Afsana, who faces verbal abuse but remains undeterred. “I like the fact that things are changing and the next batch of drivers who are women can work freely in this society.”

Detroit Hospital Builds Organic Greenhouse

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Henry Ford Health System has hired a resident farmer to grow organic produce for patients in its new greenhouse, now open on its 160–acre campus.

The $1 million complex, including an education center was funded entirely by an anonymous donor. The greenhouse will provide clinically based educational programs for a variety of audiences, including children, to make a significant impact on the growing epidemic of obesity.

Michelle Lutz, resident farmer at the hospital, is growing a wide variety of produce in the greenhouse, including tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, eggplant, cucumber, peas, beans, strawberries, Swiss chard, Chinese cabbage, and herbs. With more than 16 years experience, Lutz is the former co-owner of certified organic vegetable Maple Creek Farm in Yale, Michigan, a resource for Henry Ford West Bloomfield since it opened in 2009.

“Our goal is to be a national model for how wellness education can improve health and reduce health care costs by providing people with resources to help them achieve optimal health,” says van Grinsven.

The produce being grown in the greenhouse is projected to reduce food costs at the hospital by more than $20,000 per year, while providing patients with healthy meals. Lutz joined Henry Ford in November, providing input into the type of crops and how they would be grown.