All but 4% of the trash produced in Sweden bypasses the landfill and is either recycled or used as fuel in their waste-to-energy programs. Sweden is able to generate 20% of the energy they need to heat the country and also provide electricity for 250,000 homes. They’re so successful in their recycling and waste-to-energy programs, they’re actually running out of trash.
Sweden has begun to import tons of trash from neighboring countries in order to gather burnable waste so they can incinerate it and create energy. Countries like Norway are paying them to take their waste, since it’s more expensive for the Norwegians to burn the trash in their own country and they lack recycling programs.
Waste-to-energy initiatives have been introduced in Italy, Romania, Bulgaria, and Lithuania. In the USA, 67% of our waste ends up in landfills. Hopefully someday, we can follow in the eco-friendly footsteps of our European friends.