Sweden is renowned worldwide for it’s attitude towards sustainability and the obsession towards recycling. Since moving here it only took a few days to notice how integrated into everyone’s lives it has become.
At the opening of the academic year Karolinska Institutet announced that the campus shuttle bus, which travels between Solna and Huddinge, now runs ‘fossil-fuel-free’. It is fuelled with synthetic diesel produced from rape seed: a sustainable biofuel also reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 90%. This is just one of the many examples demonstrating the awareness of ‘being green’ in Sweden – particularly that most universities have dedicated sustainability teams working on developing an environmentally friendly image of the institution. I personally think that studying in Sweden and being surrounded by this green awareness really makes you reflect upon your habits and change them to help protect the world we live in.
This means that only 1% ends up in a rubbish dump.
Although we like to imagine that this rubbish is converted into new paper coffee cups or plastic bottles – the reality is that most of it is ‘recycled’ into energy. Sweden burns this imported garbage (mainly from Norway) in incinerators to generate electricity and provide heating or hot water. Essentially, the main recycling program is so good, they’ve run out of rubbish to burn in their waste-to-energy program!
Returning them to recycling points in stores rewards you with 1 Swedish Krona per can with the average Swede returning 146 of them per year.
So what are universities in Sweden doing to help? Well, I’m sure Elke will post more about her studies in sustainable development at the Stockholm Resilience Centre – which focuses on social-ecological balance. Chalmer’s University of Technology is a member of the Alliance for Global Sustainability together with MIT in Boston, USA – which promotes research into sustainable development targeting global problems. And KTH is leading Europe in research towards environmental and sustainability solutions.
Whether you were ‘green’ or not before coming to Sweden, you’ll certainly leave as a more sustainable, aware and environmentally conscious person.