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From waste to electricity—Sweden's Econova
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17:16, July 29, 2009

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Sweden is one of the best countries in the world in waste recycling and sorting, according to a recently issued EU report. And Econova, located in Norrköping, one hour by train south of Stockholm is one of the most experienced energy and garden company which uses waste to produce electricity and agricultural and horticultural materials.

Håkan Larsson, CEO of Econova said it is important to have the right policy to encourage the development of environmental technology and good practice so that it is profitable too.

'According to the law, the person or company who sends garbage here must pay for it, one must pay us 1100 kronor per metric ton of waste. Thus the company can earn money from taking care of these waste. You must have a driving force for people to be engaged in this.' said Larsson.

In Sweden on average, every person can produce half a ton of waste every year. How to deal with these wastes? The Swedish government, companies and individuals set up a good net work and form a good habit of sorting out waste and recycling them.

Econova was established on the basis of a family business founded by Bengt and Kerstin Andersson based on the business concept of building forest roads using own machinery and contracted machinery in 1959. But it was in 1996 that the Econova Energy Company was established to produce biogas and garden product.

'Our methods are developed in line with the eco-cycle thinking of Econova. Sun, wind and microorganisms are key elements in production and processing. The recycled products are utilized as bio mass, material for landfill restoration and raw materials for soil production. Econova's methods give the customer a positive development of environmental issues, one example is the decreased need for depositing waste,' said Mr. Larsson. 'Many landfills in the other parts of the world is to become larger and larger, but here we will make it smaller and smaller or even close down because most waste are reused. And the business proves to be profitable.'

Mr. Larsson said only 10% of the waste will be buried here, and the rest of the waste will be recycled and used out in other places.

During the foreign journalists' tour arranged by the local government and Foreign Ministry, Econova showed us a large waste recycling site that can produce electricity.

"This is low technology, not high tech, but it is practical environmental technology. The benefit for the environment is hard to measure. But we even made 5% profit last year. It is also important to change the thinking. " Said Mr. Larsson pointing to the biogas station.

The material they used are waste from waste water treatment plants, the branches of trees, the bark , other organic waste for composting, landfill, local products, paper companies, and all kinds of waste will be sent here. It attracts a lot of birds here too.

With an area of 25 hectares, the place is owned by Eon electricity company.

"The benefit we did not measure is the environment al benefit. People tend to measure only economic benefit," said Larsson.

Here they dig down to 25 meters underground and put various pipes under the waste so that they can collect the gas to the gas station. Then they have small turbines to produce electricity from the gas which was actually methane.

The electricity it can produce is similar to solar energy utilization. With an investment of 4 million kronor or 670 thousand dollars, the landfill was built one and a half years ago to collect methane from waste composting spot. They will produce this for 25 years. Covering the top with soil, the methane will not evaporate into the air thus not emit greenhouse gas.

Mr. Larsson said it is important to sort out the waste from the very beginning. Metal is metal and paper is paper. That will be much easier.

By Xuefei Chen, People's Daily Online, Stockholm.




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