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Sweden – Out of Garbage

Sweden is a Scandinavian county that has embraced recycling. So much so that a quarter of a million homes are powered by the incineration of waste.

Last October they ran into a problem, this squeaky clean nation of 9.5 million had run out of garbage.

The landfills have been tapped dry and Sweden has been forced to import trash from neighboring countries, such as Norway. Sweden is so trash-strapped that officials are shipping in 80,000 tons of refuse annually. Norway pays Sweden to take its excess waste, Sweden burns it for heat and electricity, and the ashes remaining from the incineration process, filled with highly polluting dioxins, are returned back to Norway and landfilled.

The population’s remarkable recycling habits are a problem given that the country relies on waste for heating and to provide electricity to hundreds of thousands of homes through a longstanding waste-to-energy incineration program.

It is impossible to comprehend Sweden’s problem in garbage-bloated America where overflowing landfills are anything but scarce.

Maybe it is time America got rid of its trashy ways and worked toward a plan where eventually we would have to borrow trash like the Swedes.

Public Radio International


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