That's right, you heard it. Sweden is just so good at recycling, it actually needs to import trash from other European countries to power its waste-to-energy program.
Public Radio International is reporting that around 20% of Sweden's district heating, along with electricity for roughly 250,000 Swedish homes, comes from the country's waste-to-energy program.
However, with households recycling most of their waste, only around 4% of it ends up in the landfills.
The recycling program is mandatory in Sweden. Households must separate recyclables from trash, hence the shortage and the need to import around 800,000 tons of garbage from other European countries.
Now contrast this with the USA, where the EPA says that Americans recycled only 34% of their waste in 2010.
This means that more than half of US household waste ended up in landfills in 2010, which makes a total of 136 million tons of garbage.
The New York Times says that trash-burning facilities in the US only handle a small portion of garbage, and most of the burned trash ends up in landfills.
On top of this, according to a recent study by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Americans throw away nearly half of their food, at a cost of roughly $165 billion per year.
According to Reuters, Dana Gunders, who is a scientist with the NRDC's food and agricultural program, said, "As a country, we're essentially tossing every other piece of food that crosses our path. That's money and precious resources down the drain."
It seems some urgent lessons need to be learned from Sweden's recycling program, not only in the USA but elsewhere in the world.
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