Sweden is Burning Up!

Municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills are the third-largest source of human-related methane emissions in the United States, accounting for approximately 18.2 percent of these emissions in released Landfill Gas (LFG), which is a roughly 50/50 mixture of methane and carbon dioxide released through natural microbial decomposition that occurs in landfills. The EPA, in conjunction with many privately owned waste management facilities, has made some headway in in capturing and distributing this potential energy. But what if there were no landfills and we still had a way to turn waste into energy?

For the last decade Sweden has been working, with unmitigated success, toward that very goal. Currently only 1% of the nation’s waste makes it to landfills. Half of all household waste is separated and recycled through municipal operations. From the home newspapers, plastic, metal, glass, electric appliances, light bulbs and batteries and food waste can all be recycled. And all of this is reused, recycled or composted.

The other 49%? Burned in waste-to-energy facilities that go above and beyond even Sweden's strict emission standards.

In Helsingborg, about 50 trucks per day pay to dump their trash at the Filborna plant, which is permitted to receive up to 160,000 tons of trash per year. The trash is burned to create steam, which turns a steam turbine to produce up to 18 megawatts of electricity. The waste heat from that process is captured and funneled into the city’s district heating system, supplying about 40 percent of the city’s heating needs.” [3]
Pollutant byproducts have been a consistent source of worry whenever similar projects have been proposed in the US. However these Swedish facilities can now sort out bottom ash that is then sorted for metals and recycled for city construction projects, toxic fly ash that goes to hazardous materials landfills and accounts for part of that unconquered 1%, and air emissions are scrubbed and filtered dispersing at levels well below the national standards.

Sweden’s landfill reduction has been so successful they’ve had to import trash from other countries to meet their now established energy needs. We are literally throwing away energy while leaving it to take up land and choke out the planet. Maybe it’s time we caught this fever too!

Fun Fact: Even Sweden's landfills are dual purposed! Most have been covered in snow to serve as ski and snowboarding slopes!

Learn more at http://methaneeducation.weebly.com