Sweden Moves Toward Zero Waste Goal While Germany Moves To Drop Greenhouse Emissions By Over 25 Percent

earth-screensaver_largeThe United States continues to lag behind leading countries in pushing aggressive environmental programs to reduce pollutants and garbage. Two stories this week highlight the sharp and disappointing contrast. In Sweden, the government has made an incredible leap in reducing household garbage and appears close to attaining the impossible: a zero waste national objective for landfills. Currently, less than one percent of Sweden household garbage ends up in landfills. In the meantime, Germany (which continues to outstrip the U.S. on green policies while continuing strong economic growth) has announced that it will add one million electric cars on the road by 2030 and expects to drop greenhouse emissions from transportation by 26 percent by 2030 from 1990 levels.

Sweden has had astonishing success in reducing landfill waste which is notoriously bad for the environment from residual ground and air pollution as well as the failure to fully recycle trash. The Swedish government has pushed the concept of garbage as a commodity for recycling or fuel production. Swedish families now Produce just 461 kilograms of waste which is slightly below the half-ton European average, but the country does an amazing job in managing the trash.

One of the biggest reasons for the low level of landfill use is a law that I have often spoken about in some countries. In Sweden, producers are responsible for handling all costs related to collection and recycling or disposal of their products. This gives companies an incentive to reduce packaging and increase recycling.

As for Germany, we have previously discussed the incredible achievements of that country in alternative energy sources. Merkel’s government has now announced the plan to have the million electric cars on the road by 2020 and set the 26 percent drop as the goal. Germany is making these achievements while maintaining one of the strongest economies in the world.

These laws of course have the obvious value of not just reducing greenhouse gases but reducing pollution and improving public health. The garbage rules also force greater cost internalization for manufacturers rather than to allow them to simply externalize the costs of packaging and pollution.

214 thoughts on “Sweden Moves Toward Zero Waste Goal While Germany Moves To Drop Greenhouse Emissions By Over 25 Percent”

  1. rafflaw – “Jim22,
    I think you left out getting rid of the subsidies for oil and gas and coal…didn’t you?”

    No I didn’t. From my original post.
    “Lets stop subsidizing corn, wind, and all forms of energy.”

    While we are at it, let’s stop subsidizing personal life choices like housing, kids or being a bum.

  2. Bailers, It can get like middle school here when the bogeyman is invoked. It’s red meat. But, great entertainment! Just enjoy the show.

  3. I engaged someone who I normally don’t. He asked a somewhat normal question. I gave it a serious answer And then there was a string of obsessive and inane questions. My old man taught me to “always go w/ your gut.” He also taught me “Never make the same mistake twice.” I won’t.

  4. Dog gave us electricity before he gave us gasoline engines. We had nice electric cars in Amerika back in 1914. So, what gave? Koch Brothers of the time decided that the oil industry needed gas cars. As for trash: people want to buy their items which are packaged in cardboard. You have to tear open a cardboard box to get to six donuts or eight cookies. Trees are used up for this unnecessary waste. You can burn the cardboard in your wood stove or fireplace and get some heat out of it in winter. But how many of you have a wood stove or fireplace which you use for heating?
    The electric car will be the car of choice for most Americans in ten years. That will be true in LA and Dallas as well. My half blind guy rides around the neighborhood in an electric golf cart. I help steer. I am a guide dog. This message on the blog is to give some guidance. Remember the ad on the old tv shows: “At General Motors, progress is our most important product.” GE needs to get progressive and start building cars. Ford ain’t gonna do it.

  5. On a related note:
    Does anyone think the Koch Brothers have ever accepted monies from ‘foreign’ entities into a thinktank platform agenda? I’m thinking oil magnets…

    Wouldn’t oil magnets slide off your refigerator?

  6. Nick
    “I like incentives to do positive steps. I am a libertarian.”
    = = =

    The watch the Thom Hartman and Lee Fang interview…
    … Open eyes. AER = Koch Brothers.

    The “boogie man” isn’t the Koch Brothers but rather their shadow industries and think tanks…
    … Just pull the curtain and witness who’s pulling the leavers!

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