WTE (waste-to-energy) plants provide close to a million homes with heating and over a quarter of a million homes with electricity.”A good number to remember is that three tons of waste contains as much as energy as one ton of fuel oil … so there is a lot of energy in waste,” said spokesperson for? resundskraft, one of the country’s leading energy companies. So, if Sweden burns approximately two million tons of waste annually, that produces roughly 670,000 tons worth of fuel oil energy.
Sweden has, over time, developed a large capacity and skill in efficient and profitable waste treatment. In spite of the million tons of garbage produced by Swedes, the plants have an overcapacity. This is an interesting business to Sweden by importing waste from other European countries. Sweden imports 800,000 tons yearly, mainly from Norway, UK, Ireland, and Italy. The English government is increasing taxes on landfills every year, so there’s a pressure on finding other solutions than landfills in England. A number of European nations don’t have the capacity to incinerate garbage themselves due to various taxes and bans across the EU that prevent landfill waste. There’s where Sweden comes in to buy garbage other countries can’t dispose of themselves at a reasonable cost.
But trash burning isn’t without controversy. Some critics claim the process as anything but green because it sends more pollution and toxins into the air. Sweden has adapted regulated, low-emission processes. The incineration process isn’t perfect, but technological advancements and introduction of flue-gas cleaning have reduced airborne dioxins “very small amounts,” according to the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.