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Posts Tagged ‘landfill’

Sweden’s trash power – keeping up with demand

Posted in Models by Jessica Bird on November 27th, 2012


Photo by Vattenfall via Flickr CC.

From the article “Sweden imports waste from European neighbors to fuel waste-to-energy program” on Public Radio International.

When it comes to recycling, Sweden is incredibly successful. Just four percent of household waste in Sweden goes into landfills. The rest winds up either recycled or used as fuel in waste-to-energy power plants. Burning the garbage in the incinerators generates 20 percent of Sweden’s district heating, a system of distributing heat by pumping heated water into pipes through residential and commercial buildings. It also provides electricity for a quarter of a million homes. According to Swedish Waste Management, Sweden recovers the most energy from each ton of waste in the waste to energy plants, and energy recovery from waste incineration has increased dramatically just over the last few years. The problem is, Sweden’s waste recycling program is too successful.

Catarina Ostlund, Senior Advisor for the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency said the country is producing much less burnable waste than it needs. “We have more capacity than the production of waste in Sweden and that is usable for incineration,” Ostlund said. However, they’ve recently found a solution. Sweden has recently begun to import about eight hundred thousand tons of trash from the rest of Europe per year to use in its power plants. The majority of the imported waste comes from neighboring Norway because it’s more expensive to burn the trash there and cheaper for the Norwegians to simply export their waste to Sweden. In the arrangement, Norway pays Sweden to take the waste off their hands and Sweden also gets electricity and heat.  But dioxins in the ashes of the waste byproduct are a serious environmental pollutant. Ostlund explained that there are also heavy metals captured within the ash that need to be landfilled. Those ashes are then exported to Norway. This arrangement works particularly well for Sweden, since in Sweden the energy from the waste is needed for heat. According to Ostlund, when both heat and electricity are used, there’s much higher efficiency for power plants. “So that’s why we have the world’s best incineration plants concerning energy efficiency. But I would say maybe in the future, this waste will be valued even more so maybe you could sell your waste because there will be a shortage of resources within the world,” Ostlund said.

Ostlund said Sweden hopes that in the future Europe will build its own plants so it can manage to take care of its own waste. “I hope that we instead will get the waste from Italy or from Romania or Bulgaria or the Baltic countries because they landfill a lot in these countries. They don’t have any incineration plants or recycling plants, so they need to find a solution for their waste,” Ostlund said. In fact, landfilling remains the principal way of disposal in those countries, but new waste-to-energy initiatives have been introduced in Italy, Romania, Bulgaria, and Lithuania. It is also important, Ostlund notes, for Sweden to find ways to reduce its own waste in the future. “This is not a long-term solution really, because we need to be better to reuse and recycle, but in the short perspective I think it’s quite a good solution,” Ostlund concluded.

>> You can read the original article on Public Radio International.
>> You can also listen to the interview with Catarina Ostlund by Bruce Gellerman on Living on Earth.


Brisbane to Construct Second Landfill Gas Plant

Posted in Models, Movements by Kate Archdeacon on May 18th, 2011


Image via UK Energy Saving

From “Willawong waste-to-power plan gets Green approval” by Karin Adams, Sarah McVeigh on QUT News:

The Greens have welcomed Brisbane City Council’s plan to turn rubbish into power, but say the council is years behind the rest of the world.

The landfill site at Willawong in the south of Brisbane will have its methane and carbon dioxide emissions turned into electricity and put into the grid. Methane gas is 21 times more environmentally damaging than carbon dioxide. Landfill Gas Industries managing director Adam Bloomer, the company building the plant, says this will tackle a huge problem for council. “Every council in Australia that owns a landfill,” she said. “Their landfill is their single biggest source of their carbon emissions.” “Generally they’re somewhere in the range of 60 to 70 per cent of their greenhouse gas emission.”

Queensland Greens spokesperson Libby Connors says Brisbane and Australia are behind the rest of the world. “Queensland and Brisbane in particular are a long way behind the (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) where at least 20 OECD countries are already using this sort of technology,” she said. She says she has been calling for the Willawong landfill gas plan for 20 years. “Australia has been really smug for many years that the easiest solution for our waste disposal is landfill because we’ve supposedly got all this space,” she said. “You know that is just completely been the wrong attitude.”

Waste Management Association of Australia Queensland president Pravin Menon says Brisbane City Council is pushing forward with good sustainability policy. “What Brisbane City Council is doing is extremely responsible from an environmental perspective…in actually utilising a resource in the ground that would otherwise add to our environmental impact,” he said. He says future waste management strategies need to avoid, reuse and divert waste. “Councils should firstly look at reducing the amount of waste that they send to landfill,” he said.

Ms Connors says Queensland is missing landfill gas plant opportunities. “It’s interesting the only two plants are here in Brisbane but there are plenty of other opportunities to develop this around the state,” she said. Mr Bloomer says the benefits of the plant are environmental but won’t stem the rising electricity prices. “I don’t think it’s going to make a big difference to electricity prices,” he said. “Renewable energy is still a premium product as far as cost is concerned.” But he says what it will do is provide power to around 1400 homes annually. The plant will be operational by June 2012.

Read this article by Karin Adams & Sarah McVeigh on QUT News.