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Sweden now recycles 99 per cent of household garbage

SYSAV incineration plant in Malmö, Sweden.

SYSAV incineration plant in Malmö, Sweden.


Daksha Rangan
Digital Reporter

Wednesday, September 3, 2014, 1:21 PM -

There’s a revolution happening in Sweden right now.

Dubbed the “recycling revolution,” the Scandinavian country now recycles 99 per cent of their garbage, edging closer to a zero-waste lifestyle, nationwide. Sweden already imports roughly 800,000 tonnes of garbage per year from the U.K., Italy, Norway, and Ireland to generate electricity and heating for the country’s 32 waste-to-energy (WTE) plants.

Sweden hasn't always been a green nation- in 1975 only 38 per cent of the country's household waste was recycled. Today, recycling stations are no more than 300 metres from any residential area so Swedes can make their own drop-offs.

In addition to environmental benefits, recycling also has plenty of fiscal incentives, says Swedish Waste Management communications director Anna-Carin Gripwell, in an interview with the Huffington Post. Garbage has already become a commodity, and it may someday be common practice to purchase waste as fuel for power generation plants and vehicles.

Corporations are also held accountable to encourage and enable recycling for the public. Producers are required by Swedish law to handle all costs relevant to the collection, recycling, or appropriate disposal of their products. So if a beverage is sold in bottles, the financial responsibility is on the producer of the product to pay for all costs related to recycling or bottle disposal.

Everything from newspapers and plastic containers to food and electronics is separated in Swedish households, and later recycled.

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