Half-Eaten Chickens Become Fuel

Rob Doidge

A big blue truck bearing the logo of Hans Andersson Recycling pulls up at the corner of Kommendarsgatan and Grev Turegatan in the elegant Stureplan section of Stockholm late one morning.

Two men in white color overalls jump down from the truck, grab four plastic bags full of garbage from the sidewalk and toss them  into the back of their truck.  Then away they go, looking for more garbage.

The garbage was headed for a central processing plant to be compressed and heated and turned into fuel for cars and trucks. The fuel made from such kitchen waste as half eaten chickens, the remains of a loaf of bread, and a banana peel is known as biogas or biofuel.  The two-crew men on the blue truck were unaware of how the garbage morphs into fuel. But they knew that their own truck was using the fuel.

Biofuels are derived from organic waste.  There is an endless supply of garbage and therefore an endless supply of biofuel making it a renewable energy source like wind and sun power. According to Gunnar Soderholm, director of Stockholm’s Environment and Health Administration, biofuel is being used in 17 percent of Stockholm’s cars and trucks. “The use of biofuel has been increasing in Stockholm ever since its first appearance in 2005,” he said in a discussion with University of Miami students.


The increased use of biofuel is one of several steps aimed at taking the city to a point in 2050 in which cars, trucks, and buses will burn no gasoline or diesel or other fuels that spews pollution into the air.


Buses, trains, trolleys, and subways carry tens of thousands of passenger across the city every day.  Yet, the city as a whole remains extremely quiet.  This may be so to some extent because, experts say, engines in buses and trucks run quieter when they are using biofuel. It has a lubricating quality, they say, that keeps engines in “like new” condition, maintaining power and minimizing oil dilution.


Biogas produces much less carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate emissions than gasoline and diesel fuels, both of which produce quantities of these gases that are harmful to the environment.  Carbon dioxide emissions contribute to global warming.


The use of organic matter improves the hygienic conditions and quality of life in Stockholm, experts say.   It aids in the generation of electricity, heat sources for cooking at home, and reduces the risk of water pollution.  The air itself is even cleaner, partly due to the reduced particulate emissions from biogas exhaustion.  In 2010, Stockholm was declared Europe’s “Green Capital.” #


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