Sweden Moves to End Landfilling Household Waste

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, January 7, 2002 (ENS) - Swedish municipalities are preparing for a massive boost in capacity for biological processing of household waste following entry into force on January 1 of a ban on landfilling of combustible wastes.

Incineration capacity is also set to rise substantially as Sweden moves to landfill a smaller proportion of municipal waste than any other European country, leap-frogging the Netherlands, Denmark and Switzerland.

The new combustible waste landfilling ban was proposed in 1997, and covers virtually all household waste, according to Gunnar Fredriksson of the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Malmo

The regional waste-energy plant and the regional landfill site of South West Scania Solid Waste Company in Malmo, Sweden (Photo courtesy SYSAV)
Sweden already landfills just under one quarter of its household waste. This figure should fall as low as five to 10 percent within three years, Fredriksson told reporters.

Municipalities have already cut waste landfilling by 37 percent since 1994 but will have to go much further to comply with the new rules. "We can't fulfil the ban without capacity to treat the waste," Fredriksson admitted.

Early information on municipalities' plans points to a boom for biological treatment of source separated organic waste. Current capacity is under 400,000 metric tons per year, but this is expected to more than double by around 2010.

Current incineration capacity for household waste is already higher, at 1.5 million metric tons, and is also expected to increase.

Charged by the government with monitoring local authorities' implementation of the ban, the EPA is also developing further policy proposals to ensure long term sustainable waste management. In a report issued late last year, for example, it proposed a national target for biological waste treatment, and rules on waste going to incineration.

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