Alchemy of Incineration

The Alchemy of Incineration

From Waste to Resource

by Patricia Chase

For every three tons of garbage, the new super-efficient incinerator operated by SYSAV in Malmö, Sweden, extracts the equivalent energy of one ton of oil. Nine municipalities, with a total of 500,000 inhabitants, jointly own SYSAV, a regional waste service company serving southern Sweden. In addition to burning its own wastes, Sweden has become a waste importer. Revenue is generated in two ways: by selling waste incineration services, and by selling the energy and heat produced by incineration. This is the alchemy of waste incineration: Waste = Energy = Revenue.

Vacuum systems in the Augustemburg neighborhood

Copenhagen, Waste Collection

The Augustemborg neighborhood in Copenhagen was one of the first ones in the world to try this vacuum collection system for non-recycleable items. Waste collection trucks dont need to access every street of this neighborhood, instead they collect all waste in pump stations on the periphery.

Community Deposit Center

Community Deposit Centers

These building types are small centers for community reuse, recycling and composting. They also play an important role in community development and children education.

Photo by Trip Participant

Grabbing a load

Sweden, Waste Management

Sweden considers the issues of municipal waste management and energy management to be inextricably connected. It is simply put, illegal to landfill any combustible municipal waste. This has led to the construction of very clean and efficient waste to energy conversion plants, that produce both heat and electricty from this "free" fuel source. And the energy and area required to landfill is minimized to insignificant digits.

Curitiba Food Exchange

People line up to trade garbage and recylables for food. The program has a duel purpose: clean streets and nutrition for the poor.

Malmö, Waste to Energy

The Waste to Energy plant in Malmo accepts garbage from many municipalities. Electricity goes into the electrical grid; heat is distributed to homes and business through the district energy system.