Swedish zero waste: Swedish people recycle all garbage


“Sweden is out of trash!”

“Scandinavians are ready to import neighbors’ waste!” 

A few months ago, tabloids around the world erupted in a flurry of similar headlines. The Swedes have shocked the planet. This time, not with a victory at Eurovision or the Ice Hockey World Championship, but with a brilliant attitude towards one’s nature. It turned out that they combined the impossible: they cleaned up the environment and made money on it! But this is exactly how it should be in the XNUMXst century. Let’s take a closer look. 

The secret lies in the mathematical processing of waste of all types, which are carefully collected and separated. The main merit of the country is the total education and upbringing of the population. For half a century, the Scandinavians have formed an awareness of the fragility of nature and the destructive impact of man. As a result today:

Each family has 6-7 buckets, each of which is designed strictly for a certain type of waste (metal, paper, plastic, glass, and there is also a trash can that cannot be recycled);

· there are almost no landfills left, and those that have been preserved occupy a minimal area;

Waste has become fuel. 

At some point, many years of progressive movement gave a tangible result: any schoolchild in Sweden knows that from his empty mineral water bottle they will make a new bottle 7 more times in the process of recycling. And then the waste plastic goes to the power plant and is converted into kilowatt-hours. Stockholm today is 45% provided with electricity from recycled waste.

So it is better to collect garbage separately than to scatter it around you. What do you think?

In the kindergarten, children are taught in a playful way to throw away garbage correctly. Then this “game” is explained from a scientific point of view. The result is clean streets, beautiful nature and excellent ecology.

An extensive network of waste recycling stations has been created in Sweden. They are specialized and available to all residents. Delivery of waste is carried out by transport equipped for a specific cargo. In 1961, a unique project was launched in Sweden – an underground air duct for transporting garbage. Once a day, the discarded garbage, under the influence of a strong air current, moves through a system of tunnels to a recycling station. Here it is filtered, pressed and either disposed of or recycled further. 

Large garbage (TV, building materials, furniture) is taken to the station, where they are sorted, carefully sorted into parts. Manufacturers buy these parts and produce new TVs, building materials and furniture.

Also come with chemicals. The household chemicals recycling station separates the elements and sends them further – either for recycling or for secondary production. Specialized eco-stations for the collection of used oil and other chemicals operate at gas stations. Garbage collection points are located within walking distance. Large stations are placed at the rate of 1 station per 10-15 thousand inhabitants. The services of all processing stations are free for the population. This is a public long-term development project funded by the government and private companies.

“Deconstruction” is the name given to the demolition program in Sweden. The old house is dismantled into segments, which are transported to the processing plant. So, from used building materials, new ones are obtained that fully comply with quality standards.

The Swedes encourage the separate collection of waste in the “ruble” (crown, euro – this is not so important anymore). Even in a small village, you can see a special machine in which you can put a plastic bottle and immediately “convert” it into hard currency. In fact, you return the money that the manufacturer includes in the cost of the product for the container – you spend only on the product itself. Brilliant, isn’t it?


Sweden’s 15 environmental goals 

1999 The government of the northern country adopts a list of 15 points that are designed to make the state clean and friendly to the people.

1. Clean air

2. High quality ground water

3. Sustainable lakes and channels

4. Natural state of wetlands

5. Balanced marine environment

6. Sustainable coastal areas and archipelagos

7. No eutrophication, only natural oxidation

8. The richness and diversity of the forest

9. Stable farmland

10. Majestic mountain regions

11. Good urban environment

12. Non-toxic environment

13. Radiation safety

14. Protective ozone layer

15. Reduced climate impact

The goal is to complete the list by 2020. Have you made your to-do list for the future? Do you know many countries that make such lists for themselves? 

The introduction of the latest technological solutions at all stages of the collection, sorting and processing of waste has led to the fact that Sweden has become dependent on the regular receipt of garbage. The houses of the population are heated by burning waste exactly as the energy system runs on this type of fuel (to a large extent). Fortunately, the neighbors expressed their willingness to help – Norway is ready to supply up to 800 thousand tons of garbage annually.

Waste incineration plants have a reduced rate of harmful elements that enter the atmosphere (up to 1%). The ecological footprint of such an approach to organizing the life of society is minimal.

And now the words of Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Loffen, which he voiced at the UN Geassembly, sound not so utopian now. Loffen said his country wants to be the first nation in the world to phase out fossil fuels.

By 2020, it is planned to transfer urban public transport to cars running on biogas produced from sewage and food industry waste. 

Russian Federation: about 60 million tons of municipal solid waste annually. 400 kg per inhabitant of the country. According to Avfall Sverige, in 2015 each Swede produced 478 kg of garbage. In total, more than 4 million tons of garbage are generated annually in the country. 

The level of processing is 7-8%. 90% of garbage is stored in open landfills. Domestic experts have studied the Swedish experience (by the way, the country invites experts from all over the world and is ready to share its technologies and experience in waste disposal) and the movement towards recycling and recycling of waste is beginning to be traced. 

According to the latest data in Sweden, the garbage situation is as follows:

recycles – 50,6%,

burns for energy production – 48,6%,

sends to landfills – 0,8%.

Up to 2 million tons of their garbage are burned annually. In 2015, Sweden imported and processed 1,3 million tons of waste from the UK, Ireland and Norway. 

Zero Waste is our motto. We would prefer to generate less waste, and reuse all the waste that is generated in one way or another. There is no limit to perfection, and we are passionate about this process.”

This is a statement from the head of the waste and recycling association, Wayne Wykvist. 

The Swedes opened up the world of science fiction. They approached the issue of ecology with all responsibility, combining the education of society, industrial technology and scientific achievements into a single force. So they cleared their country of garbage – and now they are helping others. Someone business, someone advice. Until each person realizes their role in the growth of landfills, we will only have to look at the Scandinavians and admire them. 


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