Importing Garbage For Energy Is Good Business For Sweden


Importing Garbage For Energy Is Good Business For Sweden

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Everyone produces waste, and the Swedes are no different. It’s what they do with it that is unusual. Sweden recycles and sorts its waste so efficiently that less than 1 percent ends up in landfills. But perhaps even more interesting, and somewhat controversial, is that Sweden burns about as much household waste as it recycles, over 2 million tons, and converts this to energy. But even with this amount of domestic waste, the country’s 32 waste-to energy (WTE) incineration plants can handle even more. And when Sweden runs out of its own garbage, it offers a service to the rest of garbage-bloated Europe: importing excess waste from other countries.

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[Importing Garbage For Energy Is Good Business For Sweden]

Everyone produces garbage. Sweden is no different. But it’s what they do with that waste that is a bit unusual.

[Anna-Carin Gripwall (Director of Comms, Swedish Waste Management):]
Swedes produce a fair amount of waste, approximately 460 kilos per person in a year, which amounts to 4.4 million tons every year, less than 1% goes to landfill and the rest is about 50/50 recycled and energy recovery.

With recycling and sorting of garbage a way of life, Sweden is able to convert much of its waste into energy. With its thirty two incineration plants, Sweden is considered the world leader in the field of waste energy or energy recovery. In Helsingborg, in the south of Sweden, about 40% of households get their district heating from garbage incinerated at the brand new Filborna plant.

[Göran Skoglund (Press Officer, Öresundskraft AB):]
The waste that we use here comes from two main sources, the households and industrial waste. It is sorted. Meaning that scrap metal, foodstuffs, glass, et cetera has been sorted prior to incineration here. A good number to remember is that three tons of waste contains as much energy as one ton of fuel oil, so there’s a lot of energy in waste.

[Anna-Carin Gripwall:] Source:
In Sweden, we incinerate 2.2 million tons of household waste in these plants every year.

[Voice Over:]
Despite the millions of tons of garbage produced by the Swedes, the plants have an overcapacity. This has led to an interesting business for Sweden, the importing of waste from other European countries.

[Anna-Carin Gripwall:]
Waste today, is a commodity, in, in a different way than it has been. It’s not only waste, it’s – it’s a business. We import approximately 800,000 tons yearly. We sell the service. It’s mainly Norway, the UK, Ireland, Italy.

What we have here is imported English household waste. Each one of these weighs about, 700 kilos, which corresponds to 200, 250 kilos of fuel oil in energy terms, so there’s a lot of energy here.

20% of the fuel that we use here at the field water plant is imported primarily from England, it is sorted waste, metal has been sorted out, glass has been sorted out, food stuff has been sorted out. The English authorities, the English government is increasing taxes on land fills every year. So there’s a pressure on finding other solutions than landfills in England.

[Voice Over:]
It seems like a win-win. Good business for Sweden and less landfill in Europe. But it’s not without controversy. What about the environmental impacts of waste to energy?

Is this clean energy? Well, it depends on how you look at it compared to the alternative of landfill. This is a much better solution. Having said that, all incineration of waste must be done in a proper manner. We are at half of the levels that are actually permitted, so we are far below the emission levels that the authorities has demanded from us. In a European perspective, every year, some 150 million tons are landfilled, every year, throughout Europe. So there are huge amounts of waste.

[Anna-Carin Gripwall:]
As we speak, EU’s looking at the legislation, and the, waste framework directive and, we think that they’re going to suggest higher recycling targets and also more landfill bans.

[Man:] Source: L Y B I O . N E T
I think in the long run, the world needs to produce less waste. The world has a – has a garbage problem. In the meantime, waste incineration and extracting energy from the waste is a good solution.

Importing Garbage For Energy Is Good Business For Sweden

Importing Garbage For Energy Is Good Business For Sweden

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