English Report From Green Living in Europe
Waste in Hamburg and Bergen
Recycling, reuse, and distance heating are all important elements in environmental politic. Hamburg was elected as the greenest city of 2011 in Europe, but in which extent are the city and its citizens using these factors? What can a small city located on the west coast of Norway learn from the million town Hamburg? Everything can get better, so what can the greenest city of 2011 do to improve their environmental situation? These questions are interesting to discuss because of the ongoing global warming and because it is important that the different countries in the world help each other to solve this world wide problem.
Hamburg is a typical example of a city that has gone through, and is still in, a period of urbanization. Most of the citizens is located around the city center were most of the people also work. With 1, 8 inhabitants living in the city, there are produced a lot of waste. Almost every household in Hamburg have their own sorting system, but in different sizes. Some households only sort biological waste and paper, while others also sort metal, plastic and glass. The possibilities for recycling in Hamburg are fantastic: They have as much as 13 abilities were waste is reformed to new objects. In addition to these, Hamburg has four huge refuse destructors. One of them, the largest and most famous
one, is located in Stellingen west from Hamburg. Here are both normal waste and biological waste brought in large trucks, and it is burned into ashes that could be used for building materials to for instance streets. The environmental situation at the refuse destructor was in 1973 not very good. The different emissions were extremely high, and the pollution was not sustainable at all. This got better for each year, and only 17 years later, all of the emissions were considerable improved. Here are some good examples:
- Chlorine emissions were reduced from 100 mg/Nm3 to 10 mg/Nm3
- Dust emissions were reduced from 150 mg/Nm3 to 10 mg/Nm3
- Sulphur emissions were reduced from 1000 mg/Nm3 to only 50 mg/Nm3
Such large constructions cost a lot of money, not just to build, but also to operate. The refuse destructors in Hamburg actually have more capacity than there is waste in the city. If the destructors run low on garbage, the city will lose a great amount of money. Therefore, they import waste from other countries, especially Great Britain. This leads to another environmental problem: Large trucks carrying waste the whole way from Great Britain is causing high CO2 emissions which is not sustainable for our environment. The only good argument the lecturer at the refuse destructor had to this, was that the trucks would drive anyways.
Some of the waste that is burned at the refuse destructors are also used to warm up houses by distance heating, but according to the lecturer, Hamburg has a far better potential than what is used now.
To understand the waste situation in Hamburg, it is a good idea to look at the different parts of the city. St. Pauli and Hafencity are two pretty different places in the same city. While Hafencity is a modern area with up-to-date houses and new values, St. Pauli has a lot of older, dilapidated houses. It is easy to spot out the differences in the two districts, not only at the architecture, but also at the people who live there. It is obviously an huge difference in how much money the city has spent at Hafencity in proportion to St. Pauli. This also comes to the surface when we look at the waste situation. Modern values says that everything have to be “green”, and a rich district like Hafencity would off course follow these by having a functional waste system. While there is a lot of garbage at the streets in St. Pauli, you would have difficulties finding as much as a plastic bag at the clean streets in Hafencity.
Bergen has a lot to improve, but plans are already made to make the situation better. The city has a plan, which is making an underground waste system. With this system, there will be less CO2 emissions by cars carrying waste. The waste system will bring the waste to the refuse incinerator where it will be burned, and hopefully used for distance heating. Distance heating is also something Bergen has to improve. It is just in a small scale, but the potential is much bigger. Like in Hamburg, Bergen is also carrying trash, but the other way; Bergen is paying Sweden to burn dangerous waste. This is also causing big CO2 emissions from large trucks, which is a problem for the environment. In Bergen, not as many households have sorting systems like in Hamburg. People’s thoughts about sorting are different in the two cities. While in Hamburg most people want to help the environment by sorting metal, glass, paper, bio and others, people in Bergen think too less about it, and throw it all in the same garbage. However, paper sorting is usual in Bergen, and a lot of households also sort bio waste. Both Hamburg and Bergen are recycling bottles, in a system where you get money back if you bring it back to the shop. This is a simple trick that is well known all over the world: Treatment.
The city of Hamburg has come far in the process of being an environmental friendly city, but there is a much larger potential, especially in the districts that is not as rich as Hafencity. Hamburg could use more distance heating, and improve the situation in for instance St. Pauli by setting up new trash cans. Bergen has a lot to learn from Hamburg, especially when it comes to recycling in general and recycling stations. The people in both cities have to be more conscious about the whole environmental situation. It is only this way we could make a change.
Posted by Andrea