Most countries are struggling to deal with the waste they create, stretching themselves to find ways to recycle or dispose of the increasing amount of rubbish they produce. Dealing with waste is a burden for government officials and a concern for environmentalists, a balancing act that always leaves somebody disappointed. It therefore seems absurd that somewhere would be looking to import waste from abroad.
A new waste to energy incineration plant in Iru, Estonia, however, is doing exactly that. Completed in June 2013, the plant has the capacity to process 220,000 tonnes of waste into energy a year. This energy is then used in the national grid to supply the Tallinn and Maardu areas. The unit could process over half of Estonia’s household waste and convert it into power, but this would still fail to take advantage of the plants full capabilities.
The plant’s operators Eesti Energia submitted the winning bid to process the waste from the Turku municipality in Finland. An average of eight truck loads of waste have been shipped every day to the plant in Estonia since last autumn. The argument is that the emissions from transporting the waste are lower than processing it in Finland or burying it in a landfill. One might argue this a case of the Turku authorities “dumping their dump” — shifting the waste disposal burden elsewhere to protect their own environment, but there are benefits for Estonia.