Waste-to-Energy- The Recycling Alternative

In 2012, Sweden was already considered ahead of the game by recycling 96 percent of their trash. Now in 2014, they are the leaders in recycling, reaching a staggering 99 percent, leaving only 1 percent of waste ending up in landfills.

This practice is only capable through their aggressive recycling policies, and also their "recycling alternative"; the Waste-to-Energy program. This is the process of generating energy through incineration of waste. This program has become so successful in Sweden that they are even importing waste from neighboring countries to generate energy.


So how does it stand in terms of carbon dioxide emissions through incineration?

Despite criticism of the incineration program, the Swedish Waste Management team explains, "When waste sits in landfills, leaking methane gas and other greenhouse gases, it is obviously not good for the environment. Waste-to-energy is a smart alternative, with less environmental impact, taking into account both by-products of incineration and emissions from transport. Plus, recovering energy from waste exploits a resource that would otherwise be wasted."

The treatment of 1 tonne of waste produces approximately 1 tonne of carbon dioxide. But if the waste were landfilled, it would produce approximately 62 cubic meters of methane through decomposition. This amount of methane has more than twice the global warming potential than the carbon dioxide generated through incineration.

The Waste-to-Energy program is explained in this video:


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