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.

Paying With Plastic: An Idea Worth Sharing

Beijing’s subway authorities have introduced reverse vending machines which allow travelers to offset their transit costs by recycling. Passengers insert a plastic bottle, wait twenty seconds until the bottle is crushed to a third of its original size. Donors then receive one jiao (1.6 cents) on their commuter passes for each empty bottle. The machines have been installed in two stations Jinsong and Shaoyaoju.