Friday, May 3, 2013

Europe Has a Garbage Problem – No Not Its Economic Policy (Which is Garbage)

A Real Garbage Problem – Like Not Enough of It

In the United States we know how to do everything better than anyone else.  Take our garbage (please) for example.  We dump it in landfills that pollute the ground, water and air.  Or we dump it in rivers and oceans which pollute rivers and oceans.  And we resist any attempt to force us to conserve or produce less garbage, because as Conservatives point out, that reduces our freedom.

In Europe they are also experiencing a problem with garbage, but no, not the same as America.

Brian Cliff Olguin for The New York Times
A trash incinerator. Roughly half 
of Oslo and most of its schools
 are heated by burning garbage.
Across Northern Europe, where the practice of burning garbage to generate heat and electricity has exploded in recent decades, demand for trash far outstrips supply. “Northern Europe has a huge generating capacity,” said Mr. Mikkelsen, 50, a mechanical engineer who for the last year has been the managing director of Oslo’s waste-to-energy agency.
Yet the fastidious population of Northern Europe produces only about 150 million tons of waste a year, he said, far too little to supply incinerating plants that can handle more than 700 million tons. “And the Swedes continue to build” more plants, he said, a look of exasperation on his face, “as do Austria and Germany.”

Wow, so what to do?  Well why not import garbage from the more wasteful, less enlightened.

By ship and by truck, countless tons of garbage make their way from regions that have an excess to others that have the capacity to burn it and produce energy.
“There’s a European waste market — it’s a commodity,” said Hege Rooth Olbergsveen, the senior adviser to Oslo’s waste recovery program. “It’s a growing market.”

As for the U. S., yes we are recycling more, a lot more.  But garbage, well let’s just dump it and let future generations worry about the problem.  You know, the future generations we are so concerned about that we pollute their air, water and ground just to make a few extra bucks for ourselves.

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