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99% of Sweden's waste reused, more imported from other European countries

world Updated: Sep 07, 2014 15:30 IST

Around 99% of Sweden's garbage is now recycled and the country is so efficient at managing waste they are importing it from other European countries.

The Scandinavian country has 32 waste-to-energy (WTE) plants, where garbage is incinerated to produce steam, which in turn is used to run generator turbines and produce electricity.

The Swedish generally waste as much as people in other countries - around 461 kilogrammes per person each year - but only one% of that is ending up in landfill, thanks to the country's innovative recycling programme, the Huffington Post reported.

The country imports garbage from the UK, Italy, Norway and Ireland to feed its waste plants, a practice that has been in place for years.

"Waste today is a commodity in a different way than it has been. It's not only waste, it's a business," said Swedish Waste Management communications director Anna-Carin Gripwell.

Sweden uses a programme that involves incinerating over two million tonnes of trash per year.

The process also converts half the country's garbage into energy, the report said.

The programme involves a waste-management hierarchy designed to curb environmental harm: prevention (reduce), reuse, recycling, recycling alternatives (energy recovery via WTE plants), and lastly, disposal (landfill).

Before garbage can be trucked away to incinerator plants, trash is filtered by home and business owners; organic waste is separated, paper picked from recycling bins, and any objects that can be salvaged and reused pulled aside.