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Did you know that 99% of Sweden’s waste is recycled in some way?
Sweden is well-known around the world for being a country that puts a big emphasis on protecting the environment (miljön). Recently, when the threat of the President Trump leading the United States out of its international climate treaties arose, Sweden politicians were clear on continuing their work to protect the Earth alongside various other nations around the world.
Not only does the country have national and diplomatic climate goals (klimatmål), though – Swedes as individuals tend to be much more inclined to recycle than in many other nations, such as the United States or Australia. Against this background, maybe it’s not such a surprise that over 99% of all Swedish waste (sopor, plural) is recycled (data from 2015). This is a rise from 38% just four decades before.
Not only does Sweden recycle (återvinna) nearly all of its waste in some shape or form, the country even imports waste from other countries, including Norway, the UK and Ireland. Why? From the waste that is incinerated, a chemical process is initiated to turn the fumes into energy. Compost is often left to turn back into soil or turned into biogas, which is then used by buses and trains for fuel. Paper (papper) is turned into new paper and plastic (plast) is turned into new plastic.
But what about dangerous waste such as batteries or medical waste? As a rule of thumb, there is a recycling station (återvinningsstation, i.e., a place to leave your trash) within 300 metres of every residential area, and at most of these stations, there are special bins for dangerous waste. If there isn’t one there, there is one nearby.
Not only is recycling easy in Sweden, but everything, including things like electronics (elektronik), is recycled completely for free. In many countries, you have to pay to have electronics recycled – but not in Sweden! Sweden encourages everyone to do their tiny part in protecting the planet (planeten), and charging you for it would be counterproductive.
Is recycling the norm in your country? Is the situation similar to Sweden? Let us know in the comments!
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