We know Sweden has already been active managing waste (a huge impactor of climate change) than just about any other country in the world. Their “recycling revolution” has caused less than one percent of household garbage to end up in landfills — that leaves a lot to be accounted for in other ways.

And it is: As of last year, more than 99 percent of all household waste was composted or recycled in one way or another. Nearly every item of refuse was turned into something else — new products, raw materials, gas or heat. Today, recycling stations are often no more than 300 meters from any residential area. Most Swedes separate all recyclable waste in their homes and deposit it in special containers in their nearby recycling station.


In fact, Sweden has become so good at recycling waste that it actually imports 800,000 tons of trash each year from the U.K., Ireland, Norway and even Italy to keep their plants up and running. (Americans recycled just 34 percent of their waste in 2010; and more than 50 percent of the average U.S. household waste ended up in landfills, amounting to 136 million tons of garbage in total.)

In Sweden, newspapers are turned into new paper pulp, bottles are reused or melted into new items, plastic containers become raw material for new products; food is composted and becomes soil or biogas through a complex chemical process. Garbage trucks often run on recycled electricity or biogas. Wasted water is purified to the extent of being potable. There are special collections for electronics and hazardous waste such as chemicals. Pharmacists accept leftover medicine.

They are excellent examples of citizens who care for their environment and their ecological footprint and show that progress can be made in an effort to positively affect climate change.

Read here for more on the final negotiations at the December COP21 Climate Summit.