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LETTER: On landfill issue, let's follow happy Scandinavians' example

John Bowser
Lower Windsor Township

At the Jan. 21 Lower Windsor Township meeting regarding the landfill proposal, a comment was made that there are better options for disposal of waste streams than landfills. In response, Tim O’Donnell, general manager of Modern Landfill, shared a very interesting viewpoint — that it is a cultural issue, meaning that between landfills, incineration and recycling, Americans as a culture choose landfills.

I know this personally because 28 years ago I found myself involved not with any American company but with Kvaerner, a Norwegian engineering firm, working on the problem of separating unwanted gasses from the flue streams of incinerators and power plants.

With residents up in arms over a proposed expansion of Modern Landfill, Lower Windsor Township Board of Supervisors has tabled a vote on the updated host agreement until January.
Thursday, December 19, 2019.
John A. Pavoncello photo

More:Lower Windsor Twp. pumps brakes on landfill expansion

More:Lower Windsor Twp. residents resist Modern Landfill expansion

Since then, the Scandinavian dedication to making improved environmental technologies available has paid off, resulting in cleaner solutions as opposed to a mountain of trash. The extra cost of these technologies can be recouped through tapping the energy content in the waste.

Today in Sweden, for instance, 50% of their waste stream is incinerated to produce electricity, 49% is recycled and 1% is landfilled.

Sweden has gotten so good at this that they actually import waste from other countries to generate energy with their incinerators.

The Scandinavian countries regularly are at or near the top of the lists of “Happiest People in the World.” Discussions of why this is always include their outdoor-oriented lifestyle and strong sense of stewardship of the environment.

Ironically, all of the trash we residents of Lower Windsor Township put out on the curb now goes to the incinerator north of York, yet we are the ones being asked to dump others’ trash literally in our own backyard.

Perhaps we, like the Swedes, would be happier people if we became better stewards of the air we breathe, the water we drink and the land we live on.