Tag Archives: Sweden

Let it Burn

Hey peeps, sorry for the delay on my posts but it’s been a crazy week with deadlines 😀 (nervous laugh) nevertheless, you got me here! As you can read from the title, this post will be about fire… fire used in incineration plants, where companies burn trash in order to produce electricity and heating (pretty useful in the case of cold countries like Sweden). Last week with the course on Waste Management that I’m taking at KTH, we had a field trip to Vattenfall’s incineration plant in Uppsala… cool selfie of my German friend Ben and me…

At this incineration plant Vattenfall produces electricity and more than 90% from all the heating needed in Uppsala, 4th largest city in Sweden. The electricity comes from burning the trash that will help boil water (by a heat exchanger), water will boil and steam will be produced; this steam will be used as the fuel to move a turbine that will produce electricity. Heat is also produced in a high efficient combustion and helps keeping the houses in the surrounding warm. Unfortunately it was forbidden to take pictures inside the plant, but trust me it was amazing watching through a thick glass the combustion chamber. It was like a huge pile of garbage on fire haha (literally like a 4 floors high fire flame) and the inside temperature was about 850ºC.

Sweden’s electricity comes roughly 50 % from burning trash… good right? No fossil oil, gasoline or diesel burned, right? Well… NO! The process is efficient, YES, but it’s not as good or as “green” as you may think! Why? Let’s think about what a common bag or garbage may contain…

  • Some organic waste when it’s not properly separated (food, wood, etc)
  • Some metals (cans for example)
  • Some carton from packaging
  • Some crystal…

…but the most important content in our garbage…

  • PLASTIC! Large amount of plastic packaging and most of the times the bag itself!

Let’s remember that there is not such a thing as the “avg. garbage bag”, but it estimated between 20-50% of plastic content in household waste!!!  If you are still struggling connecting the dots, plastic comes from FOSSIL FUELS! So literally burning garbage is burning fossil fuels (in less amounts and controlled way of course).

In conclusion, an incineration plant helps get rid of the waste in an “efficient” way where companies can recover energy from the process to obtain heating and electricity. Does incineration is the best way to help the planet, NO! The best way according to the waste hierarchy is to

  1. REDUCE CONSUMPTION (let’s stop buying things that we don’t need),
  2. REUSING (come on, give it a second opportunity if possible),
  3. RECYCLING (let’s sort our residues properly :D),
  4. ENERGY RECOVERY (Ok… now let ’em burn!),
  5. LANDFILL (The least preferred 🙁 nothing else can be done with the residues so they have to be buried)

Hope you liked the topic! Don’t forget to subscribe, share and comment 😀 all the feedback makes this blog better for you guys!

R is for Recycle

Sorry for the delay and lack of continuous post, peeps! This pasts weeks have been all about deadlines/final projects/home exams/party… oh no, no parties (kidding). Well, I’m back and I have an interesting topic, recycling! 

What about recycling in Sweden? Stockholmers, have you seen the little square saying “PANT 1 or 2 kr” next to the bar code on the PET bottle? Or have you seen it printed on the beer can you were drinking on your way to the club? (btw is not allowed to drink in the streets here). Well, this “PANT” is the deposit you are paying (EXTRA) from the normal price of your beverage to encourage you to return the bottle back (for it to be recycled). Some people may find it like kinda non-sense when you just drink a bottle of Loka and have to go back to these special machines to get your one or two krona(s) back… but what about when you collect 10, 20 or 50 bottle; then, you have enough reason to get some money back and help the environment. 

So far in OECD’s 2015 Environment at a Glance report Sweden appeared in 6th place, why? well… the reason is that Swedes burn around 50% of their household waste to power “cleaner” energy production and generate heat for the houses; still, it’s quite awesome their efficiency when it comes to recycling taking into consideration less than 1% ending buried in landfills.

No Ryan Gosling but close enough me recycling here in Sweden haha 😀

How’s recycling in your countries? Be conscious with OUR environment and try to always recycle! 😀

Quick Tip!

Do you believe in Karma? I do! And it’s fantastic! No peeps, I’m not talking about the consequences the universe will be throwing at you for cheating on your bf/gf, I’m talking about Karma, Swedish app that helps to reduce the food being wasted. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO):

Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — gets lost or wasted.

But whats the magic part with this app? By using karma, you’ll get the chance to be in contact with restaurants, bakeries, and other food stores that will offer you huge discounts at an specific time and place of the day for their surplus of food, saving significant amounts of products going to the trash (e.g. sandwiches, muffins, cakes, etc). Here is a screen capture of how the pages looks 😀

Unfortunately, Karma comes with a price; the price of having a Swedish bank account, thus you must have also a personal number (really complicated system in here, right?). Why? Cause the app is only in the Swedish app store (at least for iPhone). Feeling wild? Ask a Swedish friend to lend his/her credit card! Haha tell them is for a good cause!

Do you have any app like this in your country? Remember to follow and comment! 😀

Nobel Prize… for Sustainability?

Nobel Prize week has just kicked off and I presume that we all have heard about these prizes taking place here in Stockholm, Sweden. These priser date back to the 19th century when Alfred Nobel made a fortune for his invention of dynamite  in 1866. Before dying, he stated in his testament that his fortune (around $210 million USD nowadays) was meant to be invested to recognize yearly the brightest minds among 5 fields (chemistry, physics, medicine, literature and peace); resulting on the money being the basis to create what we know today as the Nobel Foundation. Unfortunately, there’s no Nobel Prize for Sustainability research… yet☝️.

Doing some research I came across with this foundation called Katerva. Based in London as a seven-years-old nonprofit that aims to recognize and support the brightest projects in the field of Sustainability around the world, Katerva Awards are divided into 10 categories:

  • Food Security
  • Behavioral Change
  • Economy
  • Ecosystem Conservation
  • Gender Equality
  • Materials & Resources
  • Human Development
  • Energy & Power
  • Transportation
  • Urban Design

Terry Waghorn, an author and former consultant at KPMG, is the mind behind this project. The nominees are proposed by different famous names within the field of Hållbarhet such as Peter White, Vice President and COO of WBCSD. The projects go through 6 different stages where they are graded based on their feasibility, marketability, originality and impact, until there’s only 1 winner for each category.

When it comes to the prize, no, there’s no money involved as the 1.1 million USD given by the Nobel Foundation for each full prize, but the Katerva foundation is growing and receiving sponsorship from different companies; for example, in 2013 prize-winning forskning “Bioneedle” had an award ceremony at the House of Lords in London and received some $500,000 USD worth of services from EY and Deloitte.

Wouldn’t it be nice being awarded for contributing to the environment?

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Sustainability Is a Lifestyle ♻️

Warm welcome from cold Sweden! As my first entry in this blog, I would like to start by asking you some questions…

Have you ever thought about how environmental-friendly your country is? For the ones who already had, are you doing something that actually makes it “greener”? For the ones who haven’t, well, today is a good day to start!

Currently based in Sweden, the top sustainable country in the world according to the Swiss green investing company RobecoSAM, each day I learn, read, or discover something new about how green Swedes are! For example:

  • Swedish fashion giant H&M is the world’s largest user of organic cotton.
  • SJ trains, the government-owned train company, run only with green electricity from hydropower or wind power.
  • ‍2 out of 5 Swedes prefer to buy organic-labeled food in supermarkets.
  • Stockholm’s Public Transport (SL), a company that operates the city’s bussar, has the target of running 100%  on renewable energy by 2025.
  • With a population of almost 10 million people, 7 out of 10 Swedes want to live in an eco-labeled house even though it would cost them more! (This society is really self-aware about taking care of the environment).
  • By 2050, Sweden is targeting to become the world’s first fossil-fuel free nation!
  • Sweden has 99% efficiency when it comes to waste management treatment. This means that they have barely any waste that ends in landfills.

So I ask to you again, have you ever thought about how green your country is? It all comes from the policies you support, the things you are eating, the way you transport yourself within your city, the things you are buying and so on…

Now come and see the video I posted down here and remember that we need more from our planet, than what the planet needs from us  #FoodForThought.

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