When you think of Sweden, what picture comes to mind? Is it waste efficiency? It probably should be, as Sweden is leading the world in it. Sweden is spearheading global efforts of waste management; only 4% of Swedish trash ever reaches a landfill. Sweden also has strict emission standards for incineration, and has since the 1980s; technological improvements since then have allowed them to reduce emissions by 90-99%.
In fact, trash is producing so much of Sweden’s energy that they need more! Now Norway is paying Sweden to take their trash, and that may be starting a trend, as NPR reports:
Norway is now paying Sweden to take its garbage. Swedish sights are also set on Bulgaria, Romania and Italy as future trash exporters, as Catarina Ostlund, a senior advisor for the country’s environmental protection agency, told PRI. Those countries rely heavily on landfills – a highly inefficient and environmentally degrading system.
Sweden is leading the way in waste management, but it is one of few. We live in a world where nearly 70 percent of deep sea Arctic creatures are in contact with human trash like plastic bags and beer bottles. In the United States, where the EPA says 250 million tons of trash was generated in 2010 alone, only about 34 percent was recycled.
Hopefully more eco-friendly trash disposal such as that being modeled by Sweden becomes the norm. Limited-emission incineration is certainly much better than dumping our trash into oceans or filling the earth with it, as this poisons the ecosystem. Ocean dumping kills sea life — out of sight is NOT out of mind — and landfills can hurt animals as well as potentially poison the human drinking supply. In reality, eco-friendly is human-friendly; nature will go on with or without us.