There are different methods for treating waste, each method suitable for different kind of waste.
Material recycling plays a key role in a sustainable society. It is therefore vital that waste be viewed as a resource, and handled correctly. Material recycling means that separated materials can replace other production materials or construction materials. This not only results in a reduction in the consumption of virgin material; it also leads to energy savings.
Biological treatment of household waste means either anaerobic digestion or composting. The main purpose of biological treatment is the circulation of nutrients in society as a means of closing the eco-cycle.
Anaerobic digestion is the most common method of treating food waste. Anaerobic digestion produces biogas, which consists mainly of methane and carbon dioxide. Biogas is a renewable source of energy. Following refinement, it can be used as a vehicle fuel. It can also be used for heating or electricity generation. Anaerobic digestion also produces digestate, a fertiliser with a high nutrient content.
Energy recovery is a hygienic and environmentally sound treatment method for waste that cannot or should not be treated in any other manner. According to the EU Framework Directive on Waste and the Swedish Waste Ordinance, waste incineration with efficient energy recovery is regarded as recycling. Swedish plants fulfil the energy efficiency criterion (R1 formula) by good margin.
Energy recovery makes up almost half of the total amount of treated household waste in Sweden. Waste is a fuel used in Swedish district heating systems and Sweden recovers more energy from waste than any other country in Europe.
Landfill is the treatment method used for waste that cannot be treated in any other way, e.g contaminated materials. Less than one percent of household waste in Sweden is sent to landfill each year.