Squeaky clean country: Sweden runs out of garbage

Flickr photo by M Glasgow

What if the United States’ garbage just disappeared? What if we ran out of the heaps we keep throughout the country and on carrier boats in the oceans?

Running out of garbage actually caused a problem for Sweden recently; so much so that the government had to import garbage from other countries to keep it going.

You see, all this waste was a good thing for squeaky clean Sweden, where a quarter of a million homes are powered by the incineration of waste. The country used up its waste and other waste it had on reserve, so it is importing from neighbors, namely Norway, to the tune of 80,000 tons annually.

What also made the problem worse was how good Sweden’s 9.5 million residents are at recycling. They are so good, that only 4 percent of all waste generated in the country is landfilled.

According to the Mother Nature Network, about 250 million tons of trash are created each year in the United States, enough to cover Texas twice. Maybe we should petition Sweden to take our junk.

The system isn’t perfect: the ash from burning the trash, filled with highly polluting dioxins, is then returned to Norway or the country it was taken from and landfilled. There are still negative effects to the environment.

Maybe take a tip from the Swedes: reduce, reuse, recycle. Also, try these tips from Colin Beavan, aka No Impact Man, to not make trash.

Bethany Fehlinger

Bethany Fehlinger is a journalist in the Design Center at the York Daily Record. She is a graduate of Penn State University and has been a vegetarian and geek for more than six years. Twitter: @Wonder_veggie

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