One of the biggest issues that we face as a globe is waste. In an age where waste and energy alternatives are the driving force behind a great deal of recent innovation, solutions to our garbage problems have never been more essential. Most techniques we have for getting rid of waste are inefficient, and they cause more harm than good. The world needs a solution that not only diminishes the amount of waste we produce, but one that also turns what waste we have into something useful.
When it comes to recycling and getting rid of waste efficiently, Sweden is the leader of the pack. Currently, the Swedish population recycles around 1.5 billion bottles and cans annually, which is an incredible amount relative to their population size, which is about 9.6 million as of 2013. However, it’s not just their ability to recycle bottles and cans that’s worth attention; it’s what they do with their trash.
Sweden has transformed its waste-infrastructure program in order to replace the harmful standard of letting trash sit around in landfills. Now, instead of utilizing a system that is high in pollutant production, they’ve modernized to create incredible amounts of energy that have a low waste output. They can even turn a lot of that polluting gas into biofuel for modern modes of transportation.
Using 32 waste-to-energy plants, Sweden has been able to limit the amount of trash that reaches landfills to less than one percent, which is simply astounding. They’ve been able to convert so much trash into much-needed energy that they actually have to import trash from neighboring countries like the UK, Italy, Norway, and Ireland.
Waste Management Communications Director Anna-Carin Gripwell explains why burning trash is better than letting it sit around.
“When waste sits in landfills, leaking methane gas and other greenhouse gasses, it is obviously not good for the environment.”
“We fell that we have a responsibility to act responsibly in this area and try to reduce our ecological footprint,” explains Swedish Finance and Consumption Minister, Per Blound, “The consumers are really showing that they want to make a difference and what we’re trying to do from the government’s side is to help them act, making it easier to behave in a sustainable way.”
This is a technique that can be utilized all over the world, and it’s something the Earth desperately needs us to do. The United States alone produces a great deal of waste, and most of it just sits in landfills across the country. We know that sitting waste can be extremely harmful for the environment, yet we have failed to come up with a better solution to our waste problems.
By adopting Sweden’s waste management program, not only will reduce the amount of waste that we produce, but we can use what waste we do produce as a means to power our everyday lives.
As of today, there doesn’t seem to be a system that comes anywhere near the benefits that Sweden’s system provides. If we want to continue to make strides toward a brighter, cleaner future, we need to come up with creative solutions to problems like waste production.
With that in mind, let’s all follow Sweden’s lead.