There's Norway That's Going In MY Landfill

Norway is the land of wonderful ski slopes, reindeer and 24 hour sunshine. However more recently they’ve also become known for something else, and that’s being the most efficient country, in terms of recycling, in the whole of the world!

Norway landscape

Norway’s problem with rubbish

In fact, they’ve turned trash into a business, not only do they get paid to accept other people’s trash, but they also provide Sweden with trash to burn in return for payment. This set up has seen Norway become somewhat of a trash trader, as the UK also exports over 45,000 tonnes of rubbish to the country for burning.

So what’s the secret? Well they burn it, and the energy it generates is used to heat people’s homes. Whilst Norway is pretty tight lipped as to just how much they make from this business, we certainly aren’t talking small figures. Furthermore given that profit is made at either end of the process, trash is worth far more than many can estimate. Norway are so adept at the process of incineration, that they even find use for the left over ashes; and they project that their efforts will see their C02 levels halved by the year 2020.

The capital of Norway, Oslo, has a waste incinerator that is built for the future, and it has a capacity of 410,000 tonnes of waste each and every year. Whilst this figure sounds pretty impressive, they may see the need to increase capacity further, as Europe sends a staggering 150 million tonnes of rubbish to land fill annually.

Additionally, the energy that Oslo produces from waste is also used to power the number 144 bus, which runs on biogas (a naturally forming gas that is sourced from rotting food).

Another mans trash…

Steel recyclingSweden too finds itself in the same predicament as Norway, and that is that there’s a staggering demand for waste to burn. They are so good at recycling that a meagre 4% of all waste produced in the country goes to landfill.

However this scheme has come in for a fair bit of criticism, given how good Norway is with its landfills, and how bad other countries are in comparison. The government has responded to this by planning to partner with countries such as Italy and Romania.

How the rest of the world compares

As we all know, in most other countries there are massive problems with waste disposal. In the UK landfills have existed for over six decades. However we are fast approaching the limit on our landfills. So the question is… what next? Could we take Norway’s lead and start burning our rubbish? Well, in fact we have already started, albeit on a much smaller scale. For the past decade technologies and energy management services have been developed that may even be more efficient at producing energy from waste. This, coupled with the fact that the UK has increased its recycling to 40% of materials produced, means that the future for UK recycling looks rather bright.

Ashley Edwards is an active environmentalist who is dedicated to preserving the plannet and spreading awareness about the state of the planet as much as possible. In his spare time he writes for online to encourage recycling.