Sweden Needs More Trash

sweden landfill

Sweden does something unique; the country turns trash into power on a national scale (using high-power incinerators). This solves two problems: getting rid of trash before it piles up and generating electricity without burning environmentally-harmful fossil fuels. In fact Sweden does not produce enough trash to supply the populations energy needs so they are importing trash (over 881 tonnes) from Norway.

The United Kingdom buries about 90% of it’s solid waste in landfills – making it the biggest contributor to landfill waste by percentage in the world. The United States ranks about middle of the major countries; United Kingdom, Germany, France and Japan.

Many materials that end up as waste contain toxic substances. These toxins leach into our soil and groundwater over time and become an environmental hazard for years (including mercury, arsenic, cadmium, PVC, solvents, acids and lead). Organic materials that end up in landfills (e.g food scraps and green waste) are generally compacted down, this removes the oxygen and causes the organic waste to break down via anaerobic processes Рthis releases methane, a green house gas, that is 21 times more potent than CO2 meaning that its presence in the atmosphere can significantly contribute to climate change and global warming.

Even if larger countries don’t embrace Sweden’s energy-production methods, technologies will still improve. Montgomery County, Maryland, has a waste incineration plant and Mississippi is planning to start turning local waste into fuel.