“No to waste sorting – yes to food waste disposal units!”
There is no reason why our leftover food should be put in rubbish bags and driven through our streets and squares, which is what the red/green parties are proposing. There is a better alternative – that the waste should simply be crushed, flushed down the drain and turned into fuel for buses and cars, writes Karin Karlsbro of Sweden’s liberal party.
A modern city offers a unique opportunity to implement a pro-active environmental policy, and a clearer strategic approach would make it possible to maximise Stockholm’s environmental potential. This year Stockholm has been voted the ecological capital of Europe; this is gratifying, but nevertheless the bulk of the environmental work still lies ahead of us.
Each individual inhabitant of Stockholm generates approximately 100 kilos of food waste a year. Currently, most of this is incinerated. Instead, it should be possible to convert it into biogas – thereby taking a significant step away from our reliance on fossil fuels and helping to combat climate change.
Over the past four years we have done a great deal to promote recycling and the development of biogas, with the involvement of a biogas company and the introduction of regular input from players in the market. This is good, but a huge amount of work still remains to be done. A report from the Swedish Environment Agency shows that the demand for biogas is expected to increase substantially, by up to 8 times the current production level. Currently, part of the waste from catering operations and restaurants is being used - but the demand shows that we need to view household waste as the valuable resource it really is. How, though, can this be achieved in practical terms?
Folkpartiet (the People’s Party) believes that food waste disposal units that are easy to mount under the kitchen sink offer the best solution. Leftover food and organic waste is ground up in the waste disposal unit, then transported via the drainage system to Stockholm’s water purification plants and subsequently converted into biogas. The annual “penalty” on food waste disposal units – 390 SKR – has already been abolished by the Alliance. The People’s Party now wants to go further and encourage households and property owners to install food waste disposal units. This might be achieved for example by a system of rental/purchase whereby the household can have a waste disposal unit installed and pay a reasonable monthly rental charge over a number of years, eventually acquiring ownership of the unit. We believe that the public interest should also be paramount, prioritising these investments. Food waste disposal units should be provided as a matter of course in the new housing being built in Stockholm.
Even before waste is turned into fuel, handling waste food in this manner offers a number of advantages. The volume of waste transported through the streets is reduced. It is convenient for households to dispose of their waste food via the sink as opposed to putting it in plastic bags or composting it. In addition, many properties do not have enough space to manage the sorting of their waste properly.
Stockholm also needs a new collective research-based strategy for recycling, in which waste and biogas issues are key. Such an initiative should be characterised for example by the ability to guarantee the quality of by-products of recycling and biogas products.
There is no reason why our leftover food should be put in rubbish bags and driven through our streets and squares, as the red/green parties are proposing The alternative – that the waste should simply be crushed, flushed down the drain and turned into fuel for buses and cars, represents a far more attractive option, both for the environment and the inhabitants of Stockholm.
Karin Karlsbro (FP), member of the city council
Environmental and Health Committee