Stockholm is on a mission to go green. Sweden’s capital has taken the challenge very seriously and has launched a number of initiatives aimed at making the city more environmentally friendly. In 2010, the city was designated European Green Capital by the EU Commission. Now known as one of the EU’s lighthouse cities, Stockholm has been working towards being fossil fuel free by 2040 amongst a host of other eco-friendly targets on the agenda. Businesses are also spotting the gap and responding in kind, with the opening of plastic free stores and the investment of capital into environmentally friendly schemes. With all of these activities, it is safe to say the city is well on its way to achieving its goals, with much more planned.
Environmentally Friendly Transport Systems
The city is maintaining a number of traditional values in its culture, but is also moving to adopt new initiatives when it comes to transport around the city. As a result of pollution levels, authorities in the city are adopting a number of resourced ideas to reduce the creation of pollution in the outdoor and indoor environment, including a programme that encourages biking using the city’s 760 km of bicycle lanes. In addition, the city’s trains and buses are now powered by only renewable energy, with almost 50 percent of the city’s taxis being eco-taxis.
Further adding to the eco-friendly agenda, the city is tapping into its open fibre network to power sensors across Stockholm. Used to measure metrics such as air quality, the sensors will aid the city in understanding its citizens’ patterns. It is also expected to aid in the bid to reduce transport emissions by at least 60 percent.
Leading The Way In Recycling
More than 99 percent of all household waste is being recycled in Sweden. Compared to the global average of 59 percent, the country is clearly heading in the right direction. Stockholm Vatten och Avfall’s strategy aims to recycle as much waste as possible into new resources. Some of the ways they are doing this include the production of biogas from sewage and wastewater and the reuse as fertilisers in agricultural production. When it comes to trash, residents of the city sort their trash according to preset categories and it is transported to a central storage point where burnable waste is burned and recycled into biogas while recyclables and plastics are melted down and reused. The city continues to actively encourage homeowners to be environmentally conscious at home as well. There is also a deposit return system to encourage the recycle of at least 95 percent of plastic bottles and aluminium waste.
Exploring The Energy World
Sweden’s capital has announced partnerships with energy companies such as Fortum, in a bid to use waste to generate city wide heating. It is their hope that with the aid of underground pipes, waste heat in the form of hot water can be transported to approximately 10,000 buildings in the city. They add to over 30 other waste-to-energy companies around the country that continue to work towards perfecting the process. While still in the area of renewable energy, the world recently witnessed the opening of the world’s first electrified roadway just outside of Stockholm which charges moving vehicles. Plans to expand the technology are well underway starting with the 1,365km triangle linking Stockholm, Malmö and Gothenburg, one of the most heavily trafficked areas in the country. These plans were set out in last year’s National Plan for Electric Roads by The Swedish Road and Transport Agency.
The city is also championing technology companies to relocate their data centres to the city, with the hope that recovered heat from these centres could be used to heat homes. Companies such as H&M are already embracing this move. In 2017, the fashion giant announced plans to build a new data centre in Stockholm with the aim of feeding waste heat into Stockholm’s district heating. Officials from H&M estimate that the 1MW of heat will be enough to power approximately 2500 residential apartments.
With these and countless other initiatives planned for Stockholm in the immediate future, the city’s committed to reducing its impact on the world. Redefining transport, heating and the city’s attitude towards the environment is well abreast, but the change to complete sustainability will not happen overnight. It will require a lot of planning, work and investment capital, but if their track record is anything to judge by, it will definitely be achieved.