Sweden’s recycling system is so efficient that the country has virtually run out of rubbish, the Independent reported.
The Scandinavian nation has imported rubbish from other countries for several years to keep its recycling plants running.
Since 2011, less than 1 percent of Swedish household waste has been sent to landfill.
Sweden’s “culture of looking after the environment” is partly to thank for its efficient waste management system, the Independent said. The country was one of the first to introduce a heavy tax on fossil fuels, making the move in 1991. Sweden sources half of its electricity from renewables.
“Swedish people are quite keen on being out in nature and they are aware of what we need do on nature and environmental issues. We worked on communications for a long time to make people aware not to throw things outdoors so that we can recycle and reuse,” Anna-Carin Gripwall, director of communications for Avfall Sverige, the Swedish Waste Management’s recycling association, told the Independent.
Sweden’s national recycling policy means that even though private companies import and burn waste, the energy is fed into a national heating network, warming up homes during the country’s coldest months.
“That’s a key reason that we have this district network, so we can make use of the heating from the waste plants. 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,” Gripwall said.
Towns in Sweden independently invest in “futuristic” waste collection, the Independent said, such as automated vacuum systems in residential blocks, which negate the need for collection transport. Underground container systems are also used, making more road space available and avoiding foul odors.
The overarching mission in Sweden is to stop people sending waste to recycling in the first place, Gripwall explained. Instead, a campaign called the “Miljönär-vänlig” movement encourages repairing, sharing, and reusing.
Sweden and the Environment
Sweden’s passion for clean living goes further than waste management; even the nation’s food chains are operating with the planet in mind. Swedish hamburger chain Max Burgers launched a Green Family menu in 2016, which encourages people to choose meals with smaller carbon footprints and offers several vegetarian and vegan-friendly options. Max Burgers has the goal of seeing 50 percent of its meals sold to be made of something besides red meat.
A report released by the Swedish Board of Agriculture last year found that the country had experienced its largest annual decline of meat consumption in nearly thirty years. “There are many reasons for the reduced consumption of meat, but the [vegan] trend, climate debate, health aspects and ethical reasons are some,” agricultural investigator Asa Lannhard Oberg said in a statement.