Among the many replies we received on this blog, one came from Story of Stuff's Annie Leonard. She felt it was important that the other side of waste incineration be told, and guided Pachamama Alliance to an organization – the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives – that is staunchly against waste incineration of any kind. For an alternate view on waste incineration, please check out their informational page here.
Pachamama Alliance would like to underscore to our readers that we seek to know multiple angles on environmental and social issues. This sometimes means information comes to light after we have published a blog or news piece. When this happens, we endeavor to provide updated information, and/or give alternate views a chance to be voiced. Thank you to everyone who commented on this piece!
Sweden Runs Out of Garbage
Due to Sweden's innovative waste-to-energy program and highly efficient recycling habits, the Scandinavian nation faces an interesting dilemma. They have run out of trash.
Sweden's waste management and recycling programs are second to none as only four percent of the nation's waste ends up in landfills. By contrast, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, over half of the waste produced by U.S. households ends up in landfills.
Because the Swedish manage waste so effectively and then use what remains to partly power their country, they are now living an environmentalist's dream; a shortage of garbage.
The Circle Of Energy
In order to continue fueling the waste-to-energy factories that provide electricity to a quarter of a million homes and 20 percent of the entire country's district heating, Sweden is now importing trash from the landfills of other European countries. In fact, those countries are paying Sweden to do so.
You read that correctly, countries are paying to get rid of a source of fuel they themselves produced so that Sweden can continue to have the energy output they need. You don't have to be an economist to know that's one highly enviable energy model.
Aside from the economic benefit, Sweden's system of sustainability clearly has vast environmental benefits. Aside from traditional recycling programs, their waste-to-energy system ensures minimal environmental impact from the country's waste.
Sweden's extremely efficient circle of consumption, waste management, and energy output provides the current global population and coming generations inspiration and guidance towards a more sustainable future. They represent one ally of many who understand the need to live sustainably and who fully commit to doing so.
Our Commitment to a Sustainable Future
Like Sweden, we at Pachamama Alliance are committed to creating a more sustainable future. Through our inspiring and educational symposiums delivered all over the world, and our dedicated efforts to empower indigenous communities in the Amazon, we strive to catalyze sustainable models of energy production and waste management.
With our help, the indigenous Achuar community in Ecuador continue to establish sustainable development alternatives, such as solar powered canoes and water pumps. They have also improved waste management through innovations like compostable toilets, which improve sanitation and reduce ground and water pollution.
Taking a Stand Together
As climate change continues to worsen, Pachamama Alliance and our community of allies stand firmly opposed to the destructive trends of unsustainable systems that burden the Earth so heavily.
Indigenous communities like the Achuar who are committed to finding environmentally sound ways of addressing their energy needs, and countries like Sweden who represent a modern commitment to sustainability, offer models of stepping-stone alternatives that work for a thriving planetary future.
Ultimately, any person or community that takes a stand to protect the ailing environment is taking a stand for you. They are standing up for all future generations of Life that will inherit this planet. How will you take your stand?