The country encourages its people to generate as little waste as possible and whatever is disposed of is either reused or recycled. Every year, the average Swedish produces 461 kilograms of waste, a figure that’s slightly below the half-ton European average. To handle the waste, the country has adopted a unique waste management system called Waste-to-energy (WTE) program.
Each year, more than two million tonnes of trash is burnt in Sweden, which means it’s producing approximately 670,000 tonnes worth of fuel oil energy. The country has 32 WTE plants, where waste is incinerated to produce steam, which is then used to turn generator turbines and produce electricity.
Across Sweden, WTE plants provide almost one million homes with heating, and 260,000 with electricity. And the objects that can’t be incinerated safely (goods that contain porcelain, insulation, asbestos, tiles and other construction debris) are sent to landfill. This not only cuts down on the amount of waste that ends up in landfills, it also helps reduce the country’s reliance on fossil fuels.
If you are thinking that the WTE process produces filter ash and flue gas, both byproducts that contain dioxins, and environmental pollutant, then no worries. Sweden heavily regulates its WTE plants to reduce emissions and according to the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, the introduction of flue-glad cleaning has reduced airborne dioxins produced to “very small amounts.” Watch the video below to find out more about how Sweden uses its waste.