Sweden ranks all the way at the top of the “countries that have it together” list. You might not agree with the (socialist) policies through which they run ship, but you can’t argue with the results. Incredibly friendly people, some of the most attractive blondes in the world, great meat and cheese products… It’s like Wisconsin for people 1) who like big government, and 2) whose language sounds like English played in reverse. We have family friends in Sweden, so I’ve been to the Viking homeland and can attest to its splendor (in the summer, at least).
All of that is part of the reason why I love how Sweden is being internationally lauded for its recycling prowess.
Sweden is so good at recycling that, for several years, it has imported rubbish from other countries to keep its recycling plants going. Less than 1 per cent of Swedish household waste was sent to landfill last year or any year since 2011.
People who know me know that I hate recycling. My lips touching the same beer bottle that some gross hobo’s lips touched like 17 years ago? No thanks. That’s how recycling works, too. They ship the bottle off to some factory, wash it out with Windex, pay some day laborers to take off the old label and slap a new one on, fill it back up with the new shit, and ship it off to the masses. Disgusting, and 100% true. The only thing green about that is my vomit after I essentially just made out with a drifter simply by sipping on my Michelob Ultra. Just awful. That’s why I pour everything I drink into styrofoam cups first.
But somebody’s gotta recycle, I suppose, so trash doesn’t pile up everywhere like humans are collectively playing a game of “whoever topples the trash over has to take it out,” so thanks, Sweden.
How are the Swedes doing it? And why are they so much better at it than everyone else?
Over time, Sweden has implemented a cohesive national recycling policy so that even though private companies undertake most of the business of importing and burning waste, the energy goes into a national heating network to heat homes through the freezing Swedish winter. “That’s a key reason that we have this district network, so we can make use of the heating from the waste plants. In the southern part of Europe they don’t make use of the heating from the waste, it just goes out the chimney. Here we use it as a substitute for fossil fuel,” Ms Gripwell says.
Wait… So by “recycling,” you mean “throwing shit into a fire?” BREAKING NEWS: West Virginia’s old nickname “The Mountain State” replaced with “The Recycling State” after scientists discover they’ve recycled more couches since 1900 than the rest of the world combined. Runner-up nickname, “Hick Pittsburgh.”
Sweden’s heating network is not without its detractors. They argue that the country is dodging real recycling by sending waste to be incinerated. Paper plant managers say that wood fibre can be used up to six times before it becomes dust. If Sweden burns paper before that point it is exhausting the potential for true recycling and replacing used paper with fresh raw material.
I can’t get enough of this move by Sweden. Shipping in other countries’ trash under the guise of “we’re so good at recycling we already recycled everything and need more stuff to recycle,” then taking that trash and throwing it into a fire — along with other stuff that you aren’t even recycling — to heat the houses of your citizens. It’s a win-win-win. Only Swedes could think of such a bold and impressive plan. Or maybe a West Virginian, but everything that fell into place after the incineration, however fortunate, would have to be marked down as incidental..
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