Danderyd University Hospital, now also a biogas provider for Stockholm's buses. Photo: Staffan Larsson.
It’s Friday, so here’s a happy story for the weekend that inspires me a lot:
Jan Rapp is a physician at the Danderyd University Hospital in Stockholm. For a long time he had noticed how the leftovers from his patients’ dinners and breakfast always went right into the garbage cans and was burnt together with all the other waste from the hospital. No good, thought Jan Rapp and started his quest to make the hospital separate the organic waste and let it go to biogas production instead.
Jan Rapp. Photo: Ellinor Algin.
– I wanted to do something for the climate. It’s our time’s most crucial issue, and besides I needed something to do when I came home from work, he says in an interview with the daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter (article in Swedish).
Last winter Jan Rapp finally succeeded in his organic waste-collecting mission and the hospital put up special containers at every ward to about 40 tons of food waste from being burnt every year. Now the system has been copied at two other major hospitals and when all the big hospitals of Stockholm have implemented this, around 500 new tons of organic waste will be collected every year in Stockholm. That equals around 60.000 litres of petrol.
– Isn’t it cool, in twenty days the food that we collect can become biogas for the buses in Stockholm, says Jan Rapp in the interview.
And, he points out, this also saves money for the hospital, since the trash bags that were used earlier cost a few Swedish crowns each. 40.000 kronor (around 4.400 Euro) less a year, to be exact.
So, who says one person’s actions can’t make a difference?
Personally I hope Jan Rapp will continue to need things to do after work. And inspires others to do the same.
Yes! The bags have arrived! Photo: Sara Jeswani.
Finally! I could have cried out when I put the brown paper bag under my kitchen sink a few weeks ago. Now I din’t, since after all I’m a rather sober-minded Swede. But nevertheless it’s great to – at last – be able to leave my organic waste for composting and biogas-production.
Since I moved to Stockholm in 2004 I have been suffering a little bit every time I’ve had to throw vetegable peelings or half-mouldy leftovers from last week’s dinner (that I have kept in the fridge, hoping the day would come to eat them…) in the waste bin. Burning organic materials, knowing that it would make excellent new soil, is just a big shame.
In many Swedish cities it’s a matter of course that the inhabitants sort out their organic waste and leave it in separate bins. But not in all cities. Yet.
One of the Swedish national environment objectives for 2010 was to recycle 35 percent of the organic waste from households, restaurants, institutional kitchens and shops. But when last year had passed, only 20 percent of our food waste was taken care of biologically. Now a new objective has been proposed: to reach 40 percent by 2015. In that case we have a lot to do.
When I moved to my own flat after years of living in other people’s apartments, I realised I ought to do something about my bad organic waste-throwing conscience. But things don’t always go fast… After trying to make my building society interested in starting a food compost behind our laundry room (which didn’t awake the euphoric reactions I had hoped for. More like “What about the smell? And will there be rats?”) someone kindly tipped me that the city of Stockholm could do the work for me.
And – tada – suddenly we’ve got the city’s containers for organic waste, being emptied every week. The waste becomes bio fertilizer for the farms around Stockholm, or biogas that runs garbage trucks, buses or ordinary cars. One tonne of food waste equals 67 litres of petrol.
Not causing me bad conscience anymore. Photo: Sara Jeswani.