Something incredible has been taking place in Sweden over the past several years, somewhat of a “recycling revolution,” if you will. Currently less than one percent of the garbage produced in Swedish homes ends up in the landfill today, with the other ninety-nine percent being recycled or composted.
Sweden has been known for years now for the amazing and resourceful waste management system that they have had in place for some time. They have 32 waste-to-energy (WTE) plants and this burned waste powers 20 percent of Sweden’s district heating as well as electricity for about 250,000 Swedish homes.
In fact, Sweden has become so good at recycling their waste; the country now has to import 800,000 tons of trash each year from the U.K., Italy, Ireland and Norway to keep their WTE plants up and running.
According to Swedish Waste Management communications director Anna-Carin Gripwell, “Waste today is a commodity in a different way than it has been. It’s not only waste, it’s a business.”
This is pretty impressive especially when compared to Americans who recycled just thirty-four percent of their waste in 2010 and according to the Environmental Protection Agency more than fifty percent of the average U.S. household waste ended up in landfills, this is about 136 million tons of garbage in total. According to the New York Times there are some trash burning facilities in the United States, but only a small portion of the waste is burned, and most of that burned waste ends up in landfills anyways.