Sophia Shutiak, EPL lawyer, was looking for the answer to the question at the meeting of Avfall Sverige company – the Swedish Waste Management Association.1
As explained Jon Nilsson–Djerf, the representative of the Association, Sweden has a complex system of waste collection that is very effective. But Swedes are modest and say that there is nothing to boast of because such systems are almost in all EU countries and their system was borrowed from Germany and then adapted to the reality of Sweden.
The current system of waste management is relatively new. Some 20 years ago Sweden had quite different situation with waste that was very similar to what we have now in Ukraine – there were a lot of landfills for solid domestic waste where organic waste was causing heavy methane emissions into the environment.
The changes started when it was decided on the national level that by 2002 Sweden should be landfill-free and by 2005 composting should be stopped (to avoid methane emissions).2
While Ukraine is currently discussing what to choose – SDW segregation or waste incineration and energy recovery, Sweden managed to get rid of landfills by combining waste segregation and waste incineration and thermal and electric energy recovery.
In Sweden SDW is segregated into 6 fractions (indicated percentage means percentage of the total amount produced of particular material): glass – 90 % (because of historical tradition), paper, newspapers – 93%, plastic – 50 %, metal – 85%, tetra packs – 80 %, organic waste.
Citizens are not obliged to segregate waste. They do it because they are educated to do it at school (sopor.nu – it is the web-site that literary means “waste-no”), on TV, in newspapers and also there is good infrastructure for waste collection that is accessible for each registered citizen of Sweden. Every person pays 200 Euro a year for waste disposal. The price is the same for rural and urban residents because of the principle of equality of access to services and their quality.
Waste segregation (glass, paper, metal, plastic and tetra packs) is organized by producers according to the principle of extended producer responsibility. Collection of waste is organized through relevant associations of producers of glass, paper, plastic, metal, tetra packs – MetallKretsen, Plastkretsen, Pressretur, Returkartong och Svensk Glasåtervinning. These organizations created FTI company http://www.expra.eu/members-detail/fti/66 responsible for logistics – organizing waste collection points and ensuring waste recycling. The role of FTI is to ensure access of all companies to the national system of recycling of packing and newspapers and in this way ensure simple and effective realization of producer’s obligations.
FTI helps enterprises to maintain sustainable business and perform their producers’ responsibilities.
Control over FTI functioning is performed by Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA).
A drawback of the system is the fact that local authorities cannot influence decisions on installing waste collection points actually made by the company. Thus, local authorities organize alternative waste collection systems on the level of municipalities. Such a system is not envisaged by the legislation but it is not prohibited. Because local authorities bear responsibility for the cleanliness on their territories and the number of waste collection points of FTI is not sufficient, they organize additional waste collection points. Collected waste is sold and raised funds are used to organize waste collection.
On the level of municipalities, the situation with waste is controlled by environmental inspectors. For example, if a new company starts functioning, it should clearly show what it should do with waste, otherwise it will be closed of fined.
Non-segregated waste of households is responsibility of local self-governance authorities that are also responsible for household heating that is centralized in Sweden. Since 2002 they have been unifying their efforts and building energy recovery plants. Now there are 34 such plants in Sweden. To compare, 30 such plants in the USA produce as much energy as 1 plant in Sweden. “Swedish plants are very effective because they apply the newest technologies”, declared Jon Nilsson–Djerf from Avfall Sverige company.
In Sweden, there are 50 organic waste processing plants that produce biogas and fertilizers for agriculture.
In Sweden, there are also effective systems of hazardous waste and medical waste management but they will be described in other reportages.
Prepared by Sophia Shutiak
The reportage was produced within the EU–funded project “Ukrainian civil society for European waste management” implemented by International charitable organization “Environment-People-Law”.
The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Commission.
The project is funded by the European Union
Матеріали підготовлені в рамках Проекту МБО «Екологія-Право-Людина» та Європейської Комісії «Українське громадянське суспільство за європейське поводження з відходами». Проект фінансується Європейським Союзом.
1 Avfall Sverige is the Swedish Waste Management and Recycling association with 400 members from both the public and the private waste management and recycling sectors. 99,9 per cent of the Swedish population are represented through Avfall Sverige. Avfall Sverige represents its members in dealings with politicians, other decision makers, authorities and media, both in Sweden and internationally. Avfall Sverige’s members make sure that waste is collected and recycled in all municipalities nationally. In accordance with our vision “Zero Waste”, the Swedish municipalities and public companies are the facilitators for the transition towards waste minimization and reuse.
Avfall Sverige was founded in 1947.
The main activities are:
- to monitor development and safeguard member’s interests
- to exchange experience
- to work with development and investigations
- to educate and disseminate knowledge
- to provide information