Landfill Eulogy

Sweden Dumps its Dumps




Yaniv Schwartz/Shutterstock.com

Landfills generate environmental problems such as the greenhouse gas methane that warms the atmosphere and toxic chemicals from household cleaning products that pollute soil and groundwater. Installations are smelly, noisy and can breed disease-transmitting vermin, as well as harm wildlife. Recycling helps cut the volume of waste, but the bulk of all trash continues to fill these dumps.

Sweden produces about the same amount of waste as other European nations, but less than 1 percent of its household refuse ends up in landfills. Thirty-two waste-to-energy (WTE) plants that have been operating across the country for years incinerate more than 2 million tons of trash annually—almost 50 percent of all waste.

The country still recycles, but anything else normally ends up in the WTE incinerators, creating steam to generate electricity distributed on the grid. This system heats close to a million homes and powers more than a quarter-million, thus reducing Sweden’s reliance on fossil fuels. Sweden also helps to clean up other countries in the European Union by importing their trash and burning it. Because specific products contain materials that cannot be recycled or incinerated, some landfills are still necessary.


This article appears in the November 2017 issue of Natural Awakenings.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Content

Eat Right to Sleep Well

Rather than popping a pill, eating certain foods can kick-start hormones that help us get a long, deep night’s sleep.

We Need Clean Waters

Efforts are underway around the country to make polluted waterways clean again and to instill local appreciation for their many helpful roles.

Peter Gros on Preserving Wild Nature

The wildlife expert explains why we should appreciate wolves, snakes and bats and what he finds encouraging about an enlightened focus on wildlife protection.

Running with the Kids

Families with children as young as 5 easily bond when they mindfully run together at a fun pace.

Livable Communities We Love

Across the country, cities from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh to Portland are finding fresh new ways to create engaging street life for residents while eco-upgrading their green spaces, services and infrastructure.

Add your comment: