Free trade drives the waste debate in Australia and Europe

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 27th November 2012

While Australian politicians have been contemplating national recycling schemes, rubbish disposal is making further news within Australia and Scandinavia.

A substantial increase in a Waste & Environment Levy imposed by the New South Wales state government on municipal councils, has reportedly created rubbish truck convoys commuting along the NSW coastline to reach rubbish tips in south-east Queensland, where the levy does not apply.

The news of the interstate shifting of garbage from NSW to QLD was reported this week on ABC radio.

Under Australia’s constitution, free trade in goods is guaranteed. This applies equally to free trade in garbage.

Meanwhile Sweden, which has a substantial investment in garbage infrastructure, is looking to import more garbage to keep its infrastructure running.

Sweden has been forced to start importing garbage from Norway to continue supplying power to Swedish households. While many countries around the world face the issue of waste disposal, approximately 250, 000 Swedish homes are innovatively powered by incinerating garbage landfills.

Sweden has reportedly imported an annual 80,000 tons of waste, specifically from Norway, to power the Swedish homes. Norway, where it is significantly more expensive to burn the waste, pays Sweden to import the waste, which is burned for electricity and heating, through the waste-to-energy incineration program.

According to the Swedish government’s waste-to-energy program, 20 per cent of all heating in Sweden is powered by garbage landfills. However, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency say that it is not a long-term solution, as recycling is more sustainable.

Catarina Ostlund, Senior Advisor for the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency predicts that waste will soon become more valuable and more people will soon sell garbage as resources diminish.

Eastern European countries such as Romania and Bulgaria, which have a large amount of waste in landfill, may soon find their waste valuable if Ms Ostlund is correct.

There’s some good money in dirt.

Sweden has been importing waste from Norway to continue running its waste-to-energy program.