Now, to ask someone to take your garbage will be met with censure in any part of the world, but not in Sweden. Since the country’s waste incineration program began in the 1940s, 950,000 homes are heated by trash; this lowly resource also provides electricity for 260,000 homes across the country, according to statistics. But there’s a problem: there is simply not enough trash.
Americans, in general, are bad at recycling. In 2010, U.S. residents recycled 34% of their waste—an embarrassing amount compared to European countries like the Netherlands, Germany, and Austria, where people recycle almost all of their waste. In Sweden, people are so diligent about recycling that just 4% of all trash ends up in landfills, It’s a heartening statistic, but it has led to a problem for the country—there’s not enough garbage to power the country’s large waste-to-energy program. Sweden’s solution: import trash. More.
That makes Sweden the world leader in energy generated from garbage; it is followed by, in order, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Norway and Finland. Public concern over trash in landfills prompted the country to rethink its garbage-disposal policies. Today putting waste on the trash heap is banned, which means that municipalities have to sort, recycle and, yes, burn, their residents’ garbage. When they run out of resources, they turn to imports from countries like Norway and Britain. Playing it dirty, very much.
And now you know that when you search for the country’s official page on the Web, there’s a good reason why it reads: Discover a country where the moose is king, Pippi Longstocking is a hero and innovation rules.
Read about the Scandinavian way to getting trash to trend here.