RECYCLING REVOLUTION

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SWEDEN IS OFFICIALLY GARBAGE FREE – IMPORTS FROM OTHER COUNTRIES

When you take a look at any top 10 list concerning either development or progress in the world, you are bound to find Sweden at the top or very near to it. According to many, there is no better indicator of advancement than an efficient ecological policy that is being effectively run in the country.

In this dire time, every country in the world must have an outlook on the future. They must work tirelessly in order to find a way to preserve the environment.  Fossil fuels and other forms of non-renewable energy sources are quickly falling off the popularity lists, as we seek more and more efficient energy sources.

One of the main factors when it comes to protecting the environment is cutting the production of waste and the creation of landfills. A certain Scandinavian country has pulled off a miraculous feat and we are to look into how they did it exactly.

A LONG-STANDING CULTURE OF ENVIRONMENTALISM

It began in 1991, when Sweden first realised the importance of using renewable energy and protecting nature. That year, they were one of the first countries in the whole world to implement a heavy tax on the usage and production of fossil fuels.

This tax was the first in a series of measures to discourage the old-fashioned and conventional methods of providing energy.

As time passed, people bought into the new ideology. Collective recycling events were organised at all levels and participation in collecting and correctly disposing of the waste of all sorts increased. Many experts state that the main reason for Sweden’s high environmental ratings and protection of the natural world is collective awareness.

Having information about recycling available is simply not enough. What really matters is communication that leads to that awareness. People are being taught about the importance of preserving hygiene and having a clean country from a very early age.

This is not your typical type of patriotism. Swedes focus on individual performance and good communication in order to improve the state of their country on a daily basis.

This might not have been pulled off right away, but their experts state that it’s getting much easier because people are exposed to the knowledge since childhood and are always involved.

A SYSTEM TO LOOK UP TO

Over the years, the system they started developing slowly grew and became coherent. By coherent, we mean that it became 100% standardised in all municipalities and regions, without a single exception. A unity of that sort is really important when a country seeks to implement some extreme and revolutionary measures.

The numbers are staggering, to say the least. Sweden is currently the undisputed world leader when it comes to recycling all possible materials. Only 1% of their total produced waste ends up in landfills, the rest of it being recycled for repeated use, which leads to lower prices.

In comparison, many other advanced European countries and the US, for instance, struggle to even reach a standard of recycling 50% of their total waste.

What poses the biggest problems is a lack of standardisation. Many recycling experts cite the UK as an example for this. Their government system is based on a high amount of autonomy given to each municipality.

This means that every region is free to implement its own programme, which makes establishing a Swedish-like recycling solution impossible for now. They did, however, made a significant stride with the Landfill Act in 1996. This widely limited the creation of such sites, but they, and we all, have a long way to go if we want to catch up with the Swedes.

IS RUNNING OUT OF GARBAGE REALLY A PROBLEM?

Having a lack of trash may be excellent in terms of aesthetics and ecology. Nobody wants a dirty country nor damaged wildlife and an ecosystem crippled by human carelessness. But there is more to it than meets the eye.

Sweden has a special situation when it comes to their heating sources. Because their oil and other fossil fuels have been unsustainable and environmentally inefficient, they opt to use garbage as the absolute best solution to energy.

As they have such efficient recycling methods, they are left with no waste of their own, so they have to import it, believe it or not!

lake macquarie recycling

A SOLUTION FOR BOTH SIDES

This might be a little weird, but it’s not that big of a problem when you think about it. The EU has started implementing strict laws on landfills and countries have found Sweden’s situation is a solution to their problems, too.

Many of them don’t have an efficient recycling network implemented, so they send most of their waste to Sweden, where it is used for heating. The unified heating network is the only way to beat the harsh and unforgiving winters that they have to experience on a yearly basis.

The Swedes, however, didn’t stop there. Their power plants do a great job of spreading the energy all across the country using the district network. Although this is very successful, they still want to educate their people further.

Many districts and towns implement experimental, futuristic, methods. One such is the new automated vacuum system, which disregards the need for transport. About a quarter of towns already have underground storage systems. This frees up the road and removes the nasty smells we can usually experience from waste.

WHAT CAN WE DO TO FOLLOW SUIT?

The most important facet of living an efficient, environmentally friendly lifestyle is – education. This means spreading the knowledge that you possess. Remember, preserving nature and recycling is all about teamwork. The priority when it comes to knowledge is teaching our children the valuable dos and don’ts of the industry.

By teaching the youth and those around us, we will not only secure a better today, but the future as a whole will be much more pleasant.

Future generations will reap the benefits of this long-lasting process. The Swedes did it and it took them almost three decades. Patience is a virtue and we must employ it if we are to be persistent about improving the world we live in.