Applaud Sweden for Eliminating Waste

9-16-14 sweden no landfills

Target: Swedish Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt

Goal: Congratulate Sweden for recycling 99 percent of the country’s garbage

Sweden’s focus on reuse and recycling started in the 1970s, taking just 40 years to create a program that leaves almost zero waste across the entire country. Its program is fairly simple: reduce, reuse, recycle, recycling alternatives, and lastly landfill. By building this environmentally conscious ideal into the country’s law, Sweden has seen immense positive results from its efforts. Less than one percent of the country’s garbage ends up in a landfill and much of the waste is actually turned into fuel oil energy. Congratulate Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt for guiding the country forward in reducing waste.

Waste is first filtered by business and home owners. Any items that can be reused are taken out—organic waste, like food products (e.g. coffee grounds)—is separated into its own category and paper is either reused or put in a separate bag for pickup. Garbage trucks then pick up the sorted waste and take it to Waste-To-Energy (WTE) plants. Waste is loaded into furnaces, creating steam that spins generator turbines and in turn produces electricity that is distributed across the country. Thankfully, Sweden has a flue-gas cleaning in place that reduces airborn dioxins to very low amounts to prevent air pollution.

Sweden’s success is also attributed to making the producers of products accountable for all costs related to collecting, recycling, and disposing of their products. This eco-friendly approach keeps companies from designing products with high waste potential (think plastic water bottles). With this mindset, the country has reduced its waste to one percent, and even have to import trash from other countries to fuel the WTE plants that create electricity.

This is an impressive undertaking. In Europe, generally only 25 percent of waste is recycled. The rest is routed directly to harmful landfills. Thank Sweden’s Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt for keeping up and building upon the recycling standards set in the country starting in the 1970s. It does an exemplary job of showing how if every person puts forth just a small amount of effort—separating waste from recycling, or creating products that are more eco-friendly—it is easily manageable to reduce our waste to almost nothing.


Dear Prime Minister Reinfeldt,

I recently read about Sweden’s reduce, reuse, and recycle programs enforced across the country. Due to these actions, 99 percent of the country’s waste is reused in one way or another. Even the trash that can’t be recycled is instead burned to create electricity. Sweden has even implemented a program to reduce the air pollution that is normally a byproduct of incineration.

Thank you for keeping sustainability and recycling at the forefront of Sweden’s lifestyle. By having every person help and be accountable for their decisions and garbage, an amazing thing has been accomplished. I am excited to see how this program develops in the future.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Samuel Mann via Flickr

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