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UK Rubbish Heating Denmark’s Homes

UK Rubbish Heating Denmark’s Homes

Regarding rubbish in the UK, there is no doubting the landfill problems we often hear about. But did you know that last year alone we exported around 200,000 tonnes of the stuff – to Denmark?

And over the last year or so, that figure has doubled. But what are they doing with it? Well, they are turning it into heating for their radiators and lights for their lamps – generally creating energy for their homes. And the scheme has been such a success that is is spreading across the country.

Waste management company ASØ provides heating and power for the citizens of Frederikshavn, a town in northeast Denmark. They import non-hazardous waste – such as cardboard, wood and plastic – mainly from construction sites in Manchester, burn it in incinerators to turn it into home energy.

The UK rubbish stands 3m (10ft) high and 15m (50ft) wide, wrapped in big bales like something you would see in a hay field during harvest.

“I guess we have 600 tonnes here that provide a good combustible mixture,” said AVØ Operations Manager Orla Frederiksen, explaining that this concoction is just right to convert into district heating and power.

Waste now accounts for around 15% of the fuel in Denmark, with just under half of that rubbish coming from the UK.

And, according to AVØ Director, Tore Vedelsdal, creating energy by burning rubbish is actually cheaper than using natural gas. “The British are interested because they lack incinerators and pay heavy taxes on their landfills,” he explained. “They save having to bury the waste and we save on the consumption of natural gas.”

Using waste as fuel is a method slowly spreading across Denmark, with rubbish from the UK also being burned in incinerators in the towns of Aalborg and Hjørring as well.

Amanda Hill, who is researching waste management at Aalborg University, agrees with the scheme. She said that anything that involves the rubbish not ending up in a landfill is considered good for the environment.

“But we must be careful that we do not build as much incineration capacity that it prevents a shift to a greener technology in the future,” she added.

So, could Denmark hold the key to the rubbish solutions of the future? We’ll just have to wait and see…

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