Sweden is taking waste management to a whole new level, recycling and sorting its waste so efficiently that less than 1% ends up in landfills. Furthermore, the country burns about as much household waste as it recycles – over 2 million tonnes – and converts this to energy.
“When waste sits in landfills, leaking methane gas and other greenhouse gases, it is obviously not good for the environment,” said Anna-Carin Gripwall from Swedish Waste Management. “Waste-to-energy is a smart alternative, with less environmental impact, taking into account both by-products of incineration and emissions from transport. Plus, recovering energy from waste exploits a resource that would otherwise be wasted.”
Additionally, it sells a service to the rest of Europe: importing excess waste (approximately 800,000 tonnes yearly) mainly from Norway, the UK, Ireland and Italy.
WTE provides district heating to 950,000 Swedish households and electricity for 260,000 households. In Helsingborg, in the south of Sweden, about 40% of households get their district heating from garbage incinerated at the new Filborna plant run by Oresundskraft.