Swedish Energy Plant Burns Old Clothing Instead of Oil and Gas

H& M clothing company is helping a Swedish power plant burn their damaged clothing as fuel instead of fossil fuels.

Sweden has an impeccable history of creating a large portion of its energy from renewable resources. Though the country still uses around 25 percent coal, some oil, and 4 percent natural gas, a new plant in Sweden is now burning clothing from H & M retailers instead of fossil fuels.

Sweden’s low emission rate is because 83 percent of electricity produced there comes from hydroelectric and nuclear power (nuclear power is clearly not without its downside) however, the country is always looking for novel ways to create energy more sustainably.

A power plant owned and operated by Malarenergi AB in the town of Vasteras, Sweden has a contract with H & M to take clothing that isn’t fit for wear (because it contains mold or other chemicals that do not follow their policies) and burns them instead of oil or gas.

The town of Vasteras plans to become fossil fuel free by the year 2020, and the “waste” clothing will help them achieve that goal.

“For us it’s a burnable material,” said Jens Neren, head of fuel supplies at Malarenergi, which owns and operates the 54-year-old plant about 100 kilometres (62 miles) from Stockholm.

Malarenergi has a deal with the neighboring city of Eskilstuna to burn their trash – some of which is H & M clothing.

Coal and oil is still used to heat both commercial buildings and homes in the winter months, but with novel uses of materials, and the possibility of burning bio-fuel sin the future, too, Swedes may soon get their winter heat from completely non-fossil-fuel sources.

Malarenergi  may also soon burn waste from Britain as well, to fuel the power plant.

The Vasteras plant burned about 15 tons of discarded clothes from H&M so far in 2017, compared with about 400,000 tons of rubbish.

With renewable energy expected to outpace fossil fuel demand in coming years, with even behemoth companies like General Motors and Microsoft vowing to use more sustainable fuels to create energy, Sweden is ahead of the curve.

While this can take jobs away from miners, it also helps to honor the earth. Whether you believe that global warming is happening as part of the vast cycles of earth changes that have gone on for millennia, as described in the research conducted with ice core samples which can go back thousands of years into  our planet’s history, or because of man’s contributions to green-house gases, there is no argument for the pollution that many fossil-fuel based energies cause. Co2 is only an indicator of how much fossil fuels are burned – much of it coming from our modes of transportation.

Finding ways to conserve the planet’s resources is of paramount importance, especially as we enter the coming years which portend massive climactic changes from earthquakes to floods to tsunamis and hurricanes.

Energy can be harnessed from many novel and varied sources – from a gym in the UK that send energy back in to the building by member’s workouts, to the flushing of toilets that use tidal energy, solar powered roadways,  and even trees that can act as energy batteries, or plastic shopping bags (most of which end up in our ocean’s right now) that can be burned to make diesel fuel, we’ve got plenty of exploring to do in order to  power the world more economically and sustainably.

What ways can you think of to power the planet, other than the government releasing its patents on free, or zero-point energy?

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