According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the United States recycles approximately 35 percent of its total waste. This places it at number 18 on the list of countries winning the recycling race. Although number one is Germany, which recycles 65 percent of its waste, it’s number seven, Sweden (50 percent), that is grabbing the world’s attention. In fact, Sweden is so good at recycling that for several years it has imported trash from other countries to keep its recycling plants going.
While Sweden recycles an impressive half of its trash, only one percent ever makes it to a landfill because the country converts the other 49 percent of its garbage into heat at incineration pants. “In the southern part of Europe they don’t make use of the heating from the waste, it just goes out the chimney. Here we use it as a substitute for fossil fuel,” said Anna-Carin Gripwall, director of communications for Avfall Sverige, the Swedish Waste Management’s recycling association. After the trash is burned, the energy expelled goes into a national heating network.
Sweden’s recycling program doesn’t just benefit the Scandinavian utopia’s citizens, but neighboring countries as well. Sweden has been importing garbage from neighboring countries after the E.U.’s decision to discourage landfill use. “There’s a ban on landfill in E.U. countries, so instead of paying the fine they send it to us as a service. They should and will build their own plants, to reduce their own waste, as we are working hard to do in Sweden,” Gripwall says.
The Swedish people’s commitment to recycling comes from a culture that has a deep appreciation for nature. “Swedish people are quite keen on being out in nature and they are aware of what we need do on nature and environmental issues,” Gripwall said. “We worked on communications for a long time to make people aware not to throw things outdoors so that we can recycle and reuse.” Meanwhile, in America, our president is making drastic cuts to the EPA which will only put us further behind our European neighbors’ environmental progress.
An interesting read via GOOD