At the end of 2016, it was reported that Sweden had officially run out of rubbish, and had to request for it to be imported in order to maintain their recycling facilities. The Independent stated that, since 2011, less than 1 percent of waste from Swedish households was sent to landfill sites. It’s fair to say that they’ve become the experts at recycling, but how well does Britain match up?
As 2014 records show the UK only just managed to recycle around 45% of all waste produced, falling just short of the 50% target that the EU has requested by 2020. Even worse, this percentage seems to be dropping and with Brexit creeping ever closer, it’s hard to say how this figure will be affected.
So how exactly have the Swede’s done it? And can we implement any of these tactics in to our own waste management system?
Nothing is left to waste…literally
Sweden are truly undergoing a recycling revolution, and are still making efforts to move toward zero waste production. Food is composted, or made in to biogas – this requires a complex chemical process, but again provides a great alternative to fossil fuels. Paper and plastic are all used to create new products. Rubbish lorries are run on recycled electricity or biogas, electronics or furniture are collected and taken to specifically created recycling centres. Even leftover medicine is re-used!
All of this comes from a joint commitment from the Swedish government and people to create a waste-free environment, or as waste-free as possible.
Appreciate the environment around us
In Sweden, love for the natural landscape is embodied by everyone. This love of their surrounding environment has resulted in a significant amount of effort placed on campaigns that would remind citizens of how they can help to maintain these beautiful landscapes.
Simple things, like dropping litter, can have a serious long-impact on the environment around us. By learning to appreciate the environment around us, and the beauty of it all, we will feel more encouraged to keep it looking great.
Repurpose the energy produced
Legislation introduced in 1991 meant that the use of fossil fuels in Sweden came with an extremely heavy tax. Therefore, they’ve switched to renewable energy sources to provide around half of the electricity that they use overall. With any waste that is burned, the energy produced is then re-purposed to provide heating to homes and businesses throughout the winter months.
Here in the UK, we may not need as much heating as they do in Sweden, but this does provide a great alternative solution to simply burning any un-recyclable waste and allowing it to pollute our air and atmosphere. Plus, it could mean we save valuable money in energy costs every year.
Encourage re-use at home
Recycling in the home is always encouraged, but is there a way that we can re-use our recyclables without throwing them away? In Sweden, this is exactly what they do. A recent national campaign has sought to encourage repairing, sharing, and reusing of recyclable products, which automatically reduces the amount of waste produced.
Whether you use them as craft materials for the family or even re-make them in to handy storage items, there are plenty of ways that these items can be re-used and re-purposed at home.
It’s fair to say that the UK has a long way to go before we achieve this level of recycling expertise. We have all the tools, the knowledge is out there, we just need to work together to make it a reality.
Bateman Skips provide premium skip hire in the Bath and Bristol region. We’re committed to reducing our global carbon footprint, which is why we aim to recycle at least 95% of all the waste we collect.