1. Williams, Matt. “Waste to Energy Success Factors in Sweden and the US: Analyzing the Transferability of the Swedish Waste-to-Energy Model to the US” December 2011. Accessed March 17, 2013.
Williams in this paper provides an overview of waste-to-energy in Sweden and the United States. The paper broadly discusses the unique factors that make waste-to-energy feasible in Sweden and not so feasible in the United States. The paper enumerates the policies, infrastructure, culture and economic realities that make waste-to-energy a success in Sweden. Williams points to high landfilling fees as a disincentive to landfilling and as an incentive to use incineration as an alternative. He talks about the carbon tax, direct subsidies, the recognition of waste-to-energy as a renewable resource among other things as policies that have shaped waste-to-energy in Sweden. He talks about the extensive district heating infrastructure they have and how waste-to-energy perfectly fits into this system as it produces more heat than electricity. He also points to the absence of cheap domestic supply of energy and the high price of oil as motivations for favoring waste-to-energy. Lastly Williams argues that the public support for waste-to-energy makes implementing policies and building infrastructure easier. Williams studies US waste-to-energy using the same lenses and then provides us a guideline to adopting waste-to-energy in the US.
Williams provides a good primer to the topic I will be discussing in my paper. His research on policy, though brief and somewhat shallow provides us with a good jumping point in understanding what the policies are and how they have influenced the adaptation of waste-to-energy technologies. I will be following his research on policy and will be expanding on them in the context of making waste-to-energy a viable option with regards to an environmentally friendly future. I will look into the laws and fees regarding landfilling in the EU and in Sweden and how these policies have incentivized the growth of waste-to-energy technologies. I will look into the carbon tax implemented by both the EU and Sweden and again look at it in the context of motivating the growth of waste-to-energy. I will look into the objectives of the Swedish EPA and see how these have shaped the growth of waste-to-energy. My paper will provide an in depth look into these policies and see how they’ve made waste-to-energy so successful in Sweden.
2. Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. “Sweden’s Environmental Objective” October 2011. Accessed March 15, 2013.
This government paper highlights Sweden’s commitment to an environmentally sustainable future. Produced by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, the paper enumerates the 16 environmental quality objectives of the Swedish government describing an overall guideline for government wide policy. The quality objectives that directly pertain to waste-to-energy are overall commitments to a Reduced Climate Impact, Clean Air, A Non-Toxic Environment, A Good Built Environment and Good Quality Ground Water. These objectives while broad, direct the Swedish government’s policies towards an environmentally sustainable Sweden for future generations.
This paper dictates the goals that broadly show the direction of Swedish environmental policy. The commitment to passing on to the next generation a Sweden in which most of the environmental problems are solved accounts for the preference for the most sustainable waste management option. To the Swedes landfilling is the most unsustainable option as it violates most of these goals. Landfilling produces massive quantities of air and water pollutants and thus is incompatible with a reduced climate impact and a non-toxic environment. Incineration while not completely sustainable is the lesser of two evils. Waste-to-energy technology provides energy and heat while reducing the total landfilling tonnage.
3. Lonnroth, Mans. Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. “The Organization of Environmental Policy in Sweden: A Historical Perspective.” December 2010. Accessed March 14, 2013.
Lonnroth’s paper describes the formal organization of Swedish environmental policy, and discusses its implementation. According to Lonnroth the Swedish government is unitary rather than federal. In unitary states the central government has supreme power over policy and law, and subordinate administrative branches can only exercise powers deliberately delegated to them. In the case of Sweden however, the “constitution expressly forbids the Government to give directions to agencies in individual cases concerning private citizens.” Thus the regional and local authorities, who are directly elected, are charged with implementing national policy.
Lonnrotj also talks about the relationship of environmental policy in relation to the overall modernization of Sweden, and the relationship of environmental legislation to other areas of legislation that overlap with environmental concerns. He argues in the paper that “the structure for environmental policy has been more successful when that policy has been aligned with – and thus helped to speed – overall [economic] modernization, and less successful when it has run counter to [economic] modernization.” He cites the example of “reducing industrial pollution, almost to the point of eliminating it” as one of the larger successes of this alignment.
Lonnroth’s paper argues that the formal political organization of Sweden fosters more than others the advancement the environmental agenda. The Swedish system provides us with a model way of implementing environmental policy. The deputation of implementation on a localized level allows for much greater flexibility as depends the circumstances of the locale. This I theorize in areas with district heating grids made the acceptance and usage of waste-to-energy plants most alluring.
Lonnroth acknowledges in his paper that economics plays a large part in the effectiveness of policy. If environmental imperatives align with economic ones, the policy is more likely to succeed. Waste incineration falls in line perfectly with this argument. Waste-to-energy technology is more environmentally friendly than landfilling. It has significantly less greenhouse gasses emissions, it prevents pollutants from entering our water supplies and it significantly decreases the volume of the waste product. These environmental benefits come with the economic benefits of producing the commodities heat and energy.
4. Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. “A Strategy for Sustainable Waste Management: Sweden’s Waste Plan” 2005. Accessed March 19, 2013.
This paper provides a comprehensive view of Sweden’s strategy for sustainable waste management. It sets down the plan on how Sweden intends on achieving its environmental goals as well as the waste figures on year-to-year operation. The paper details the waste disposal policies of both the EU and Sweden. It details the specific legislations surrounding waste-to-energy and talks about its impacts on the technology. It talks about the effects of banning the landfilling of organic and burnable trashes, as well as the land fill tax – both of which have large repercussions towards the waste-to-energy industry. It has statistics detailing the quantities of waste produced and disposed of by the economy as a whole and on a per capita basis. Appendices attached to the paper show the current operating data and projected operating data of the 29 individual waste-to-energy plants in operation in Sweden. It also has tables showing the emissions from waste-to-energy incineration plants from 1985-2004, despite the doubling of plants in operation. The paper details waste import and export figures for incineration. It also enumerates the policies surrounding the disposal of fly ash waste from incineration and shows figures about it.
The paper provides hard data for the argument I intend to make. The paper has data that shows the direct connections between actual policies and implementation. The EU and Swedish policies surrounding the banning of landfilling of organic and burnable waste as well as the landfill tax in particular can be seen as direct incentives to the increased usage of waste-to-energy technologies. The data showing decreases in landfilling as well as increases in waste-to-energy plants illustrate the effectiveness of the Swedish environmental policies. Data showing the waste disposal figures also indicate a direct correlation of increased usage of waste-to-energy technologies in the advent of certain environmental policies. The table showing the operating data of the 29 waste-to-energy facilities illustrate that Sweden is currently in an expansionary phase with regards to this technology. The data showing the import and export of waste demonstrate that Sweden is a net importer of trash. This shows the effectiveness of their waste management policies indicating that Sweden is operating its waste-to-energy plants under capacity.