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At a time when most countries are struggling to figure out where to dump all the trash that is generated on a daily basis, Sweden is turning the other cheek - They want more trash. In fact so badly that they plan to import 800,000 tons of it from other countries. Intrigued? Read on . . .
In the 1940's, when most of the world had never even considered building a recycling plant, this progressive country began a program to incinerate their garbage and turn it into energy. While this initially released harmful toxins into the atmosphere, over the years, the country has perfected the technique so much that these have now been reduced to minuscule levels!
Meanwhile, the energy produced by these plants has steadily increased so that today, it generates enough energy to provide heat to about 20% or 810,000 Swedish households and electricity to 250,000. And, it gets better.
Thanks to intense public awareness messages, strict laws and an amazingly conscientious population, only 4% of all Swedish trash ends up in a landfill. In contrast 63% of the trash generated in the USA ends up in landfills!
However all this 'greenness' has resulted in a rather unique problem. While its incinerator plants have the capacity to process up to 2 million tons of household trash each year, it doesn't not enough raw material! Hence, the decision to import other people's trash - Something that is definitely not in short supply anywhere else in the world.
Neighboring Norway has already begun sending their garbage, while Bulgaria, Romania and Italy are seriously considering the proposition too. All in all, Sweden expects to import 800,000 tons each year. They are of course charging heftily for this 'import' - But we somehow think there will not be much haggling over the cost!
Now, if only all the countries could line up to learn how the Swedes were able to do what none of us can or really want to do, innocent marine animals would not have to deal with our plastic bags, bottles and everything else we dump in the oceans.
Resources: wired.co.uk, inhabitat.com, npr.org.