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Norway’s Waste Management Fuel Solution

In the search for an alternative to landfills for waste, Norway, one of the world’s richest countries, has taken a giant leap thanks to its plentiful oil reserves. Their waste management facility – the Klemetsrud plant – takes waste from across Europe and incinerates it to produce power from homes and schools throughout Oslo.

Leeds and Bristol are the first two cities in the UK to export their waste, with the cost of exporting it to Norway cheaper than paying landfill fees. In a one year period beginning in October 2012, they sent 45,000 tonnes of waste to be burned and turned into energy. The heat produced boils water and the steam powers the turbine, hot water is then pumped across Oslo – where only one school now operates on fossil fuel energy. Even some buses now run on biogas from the plant, such is the impact it has had so far.

While this might seem like good news it would appear that there are fears over this kind of solution, diverting waste which would otherwise go to a recycling centre. Some are arguing that while this is a step forward it is also a step backwards for recycling as people will be less inclined to sort their waste for recycling if it can go into an incinerator.

There are 420 of these plants across Europe, with Germany second to Norway in the levels of waste it imports. The giant claw inside the Klemestrud plant can grab a tonne of waste each time, and, while not everything burns up in the incinerator, Norway hopes to use this kind of waste management to cut its CO2 emissions in half.

Wales is currently developing its own plant similar to the one in Norway, but some Norwegians have called the plant in their city a blight on the landscape. Despite these fears, most Norwegians support the move to turn household waste into energy, and with plenty of room for expansion it doesn’t seem like they will be stopping anytime soon. It’s a profitable market too, combining the sale of the energy with the money they are paid to take waste from other EU countries.

Over 300,000 tonnes of waste pass through the plant in a year, burned at 850°C to create electricity and heat for residents. Despite their reserves of fossil fuels it seems like Norway is intent on relying more on this technique for energy, avoiding landfill and leading the way in waste management using imported waste.

It seems there are some issues to be ironed out, such as the separation of clean and hazardous waste and the fact that some waste is better off recycled, but for now at least Norway will surge forward to clear up more waste and prevent the saturation of landfill sites.

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