Home Environment Guide 7 – Leading Countries Using Waste to Generate Energy

7 – Leading Countries Using Waste to Generate Energy

by DrPrem Jagyasi

Waste is emerging as a massive worldwide problem. Huge amounts of waste crowds the landfills. Not only they are eyesores, they are also highly damaging to our ecosystem and to us. However, there are some countries that are employing eco-friendly measures to tackle this problem. They are utilizing this waste to something which is of value to everyone that is energy. These leading countries using waste to generate energy are becoming a role models for everyone. If other countries like US, China, and India also adopt these eco-friendly measures, then it would help us in finding better solutions to both global warming and energy crisis.

7 – Leading Countries Using Waste to Generate Energy

The way consumers are utilizing resources these days is leading to huge amounts of waste. The quantity of waste has been increasing constantly across the world. Having overfilled local landfills is not a problem of just one country, it has been happening all over the globe. This situation is threatening humans as well as the environment.

The problem has become so severe that some developed countries have started exporting their waste to third world countries. While some energy companies have been taking steps like recycling to control this situation to an extent, there are major efforts required to manage waste. Here are a few countries that have adopted a latest trend of converting waste into energy. Check out what these nations are doing.

1. Sweden


Sweden is a country that has set up several waste incineration plants in order to generate energy for heating purposes. It is one of the most successful countries to have converted waste into energy. Waste recycling fulfills around 20 percent district heating needs of Sweden. Sweden not only collects its own household and industrial waste, but also imports waste from neighboring European countries in order to recycle it or use it as a fuel in waste incineration plants. In fact, you will be amazed to know that just four percent of Sweden’s household waste moves to landfills. Waste to energy trend has picked up very well in this country over the last few years. Its waste recycling program has been very efficient and successful.

2. Denmark

money payment

Denmark has also been burning waste to generate energy that has been helping this country to reduce its energy costs. It is also reducing its dependence on fossil fuels since the time it started waste to energy programs. This country has majorly contributed to saving the landfill space on earth.

3. United Kingdom

garbage (3)

In the UK, landfill tax is highly charged on each ton of waste. Some major companies have started running waste recycling programs in various communities and have planned to set up plants to convert waste into energy. These companies are also making people aware of huge emissions and the need for facilities that could manage waste in helpful ways.

4, Norway


Norway is a country that has been turning waste into cash through its waste recycling efforts. It not only generates energy from its own waste, but also imports waste from other European Union countries that find it tough to handle waste. Thus, it is receiving cash to manage their waste.

5. Germany

Haiti's Garbage Beach

Germany is one of the leading countries that has been importing waste from other nations and converting it to energy for its own cities. In Germany, waste to energy is a preferred method for disposing off their garbage.

6. United States

turning off router

While electricity is cheaply available in the US, the country has still been making appreciable efforts in the area of converting waste into electricity. However, it still needs to go far in order to match the recycling efforts being done in many European nations.

7. United Arab Emirates

garbage (1)

Various firms in the UAE have been transforming household waste into energy. These private efforts are greatly helping the country to handle the huge amount of waste it generates.

5 – Innovative ways of transforming waste into energy

Different projects have harnessed different forms of waste to convert them into a useable energy. Here are some of the projects wherein waste is converted into energy:

1. Turning Carbon Dioxide into Fuel

Turning Carbon Dioxide into Fuel

Scientists and researchers are trying various ways to harness carbon dioxide present in the atmosphere and convert it into usable energy. One such technology that has been employed is the Nanotechnology that captures carbon dioxide and converts it into methane.

The captured CO2 is then converted into a number of energies, one of it being a combustible fuel such as methane. Converting CO2 into methane using this technology requires the usage of some titanium oxide nanotubes that have a catalyst coating over them. This entire process converts carbon dioxide into methane using sunlight as a source of power. This project aims to be a power source for future cars, which would not allow any amount of CO2 to release in air.

2. Turning Trash into Biofuel

biofuels (3)

We could depend upon garbage to satisfy our biofuel requirement and this trend has brought a massive change in the quality of environment. Converting garbage into such a useful form of energy has solved two major problems: it has reduced our dependence on fossil fuels that leave a major carbon footprint, and it has reduced the size of landfill sites.

To go by the records, 10 percent of gasoline demand in U.S. is satisfied using corn, and 468 million metric tons of trash in North America is used to produce 47 billion liters of ethanol. Furthermore, plastics, wood, textiles and other garbage is gasified using water and catalysts and then via multiple chemical steps is converted into ethanol.

3. Electricity from Wastewater

water wastage

Tiny microbes present in water break down the organic material in waste streams and produce electrons. Some scientists at the Ghent University, Belgium used these electrons to create microbial fuel cells. They fed microbes a diet of aerobic and anaerobic sludge, and wastewater for a period of 200 days and realized that the measure of power produced by these fuel cells increased.

4. Converting Waste Heat to Electricity

Converting Waste Heat to Electricity

Image Source : SciTechDaily.Com

A battery technology developed by scientists at Stanford and MIT can capture waste heat and transform it into electricity. Since ages, scientists have worked hard to come up with a way that could harness excess heat electric power plants and industrial processes release.

Some came up with some concepts but none of it served the purpose right. Then the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) researchers and Stanford University introduced a concept that could convert waste heat into electricity at a low temperature.

5. Energy from Pollution

American car in smoke

Researchers at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University came up with a stupendous concept that claimed to extract electricity from pollution and organic waste products. Their biological fuel cells are extremely capable of extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, thus, bringing a considerable reduction in global warming. This project is also of crucial help for reducing excessive waste collection at landfill sites.


These leading countries using waste to generate energy across the world are making a change. They are putting efforts in the area of managing waste and converting it into energy. This may significantly handle the problem of ever-reducing land during the coming years and protect the environment too.

Waste, be it the one ending up at landfill sites or mixing in air polluting the environment is a threat for the environment. Moreover, it is a threat to us altogether. The projects wherein we convert waste into a useable form of energy are of paramount importance. They help us sustain the environment.

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