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Saturday, October 6, 2012

Sweden trash problem?

Well, this will be my first article about waste. And I could not have read better articles than the three which I have just finished reading on dealing with the problem of waste, and landfills, etc.

You see the first post or article I read on such touted the effectiveness of Sweden's recycling programs. It seems as though only 1% of this country's waste eventually ends up in a landfill. In fact, they just began importing waste from their neighbor, Norway. I believe the number given in said article was 800,000 tons of garbage each year that they import.

But to understand how they reached this one percent, one must dig into it a bit. Of course I have done so myself so I can more accurately present this story to you, my readers. You see, the first thing that they do is recycle everything which is recyclable. After they recycle all the recyclables in their garbage, it is then sent to an incinerator to burn.

But such incineration is not without its own pitfalls. First of all any incineration of waste is bound to produce heavy metal pollutants; Mercury is released into the air unless they have figured out a way to sequester it. But their are other heavy metals present in the ash of said powerhouses, as well as things such as dioxin. SCR's (Selective Catalytic Reduction) may help this out some what but they are far from clean burning. But Sweden utilizes a dual purpose incinerators, kind of like a combined cycle powerhouse. The steam, after it has gone through the turbine in their powerhouses, is sent to houses and factories and is then used for heating purposes. This is rather innovative to me and helps to utilize all of the energy consumed through the burning of their trash.

Sweden has come a long way in reducing its pollution of the land via landfills. But I would want to see the CEMS(Constant Emissions Monitoring System) data on the output of these trash fired powerhouses before I issue a judgement on such. As well I read two additional articles on such, which you can find here and here if you want to read up on what Sweden has accomplished.

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