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Popular import? (Illustration) Photo: Shutterstock
Popular import? (Illustration) Photo: Shutterstock

Sweden mulling trash imports

Stockholm's alternative energy industry finds itself dealing with unusual problem – refuse deficiency

News agencies
Published: 11.14.12, 07:52 / Israel Environment

Sweden has recently found itself dealing with a shortage on an unusual kind – the country is short on trash.


Sweden's alternative energy ventures, which depend – in part – on refuse, have reportedly reached a point where the waste incineration industry needs more garbage than they country produces.


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The various ventures' success has led Sweden to being importing trash from neighboring countries.


According to NPR, Sweden currently imports 800,000 tons of trash every year from the rest of Europe and uses it to produce energy in its power plants.


"We have more capacity than the production of waste in Sweden and that is usable for incineration," Catarina Ostlund, who serves as a senior advisor to the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, said.


Sweden's growing need of trash has created a win-win situation for countries struggling to deal with waste management and several European countries actually pay Stockholm to take their trash.


According to the Swedish media, only 4% of the country's household waste ends up in landfills and the energy produced from the recycled trash powers electricity for about 250,000 homes.


Sweden routinely imports garbage from Norway, and is now reportedly looking to import waste from Bulgaria, Romania and Italy.


But trash recycling does have its drawbacks, the most prominent one being the fact that the method releases dioxins that pose a serious environmental problem.


Ostlund added there are also heavy metals captured within the ash that need to be landfilled. Those ashes are then exported to Norway.


Ostlund said Sweden hopes that in the future, Europe will build its own plants so it can take care of its own waste.


Landfilling remains the principal way of disposal in most European countries, but new waste-to-energy initiatives have been introduced in Italy, Romania, Bulgaria, and Lithuania.



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