Two pictures of Jan Rapp, one is a portrait of Jan Rapp and the other picture represents Jan in front of a biogas tank that says "Here we make Biogas"

Jan Rapp: All countries stand to gain significantly from converting their waste into fossil-free energy


Chief physician Jan Rapp works as a gynecologist at IVF Stockholm, but beyond this, he is the man behind a major food waste project in the Stockholm Region, resulting in the conversion of the hospitals' food waste into biogas. Today, almost all hospitals in Stockholm are involved, collectively gathering 600 tons of food waste per year. The biogas generated from this quantity powers over 100 biogas cars completely climate-neutrally with fuel produced in Stockholm.

Why do you think biogas is so good for the climate?

− Biogas is climate-neutral because the carbon dioxide it produces is part of the balanced cycle between animals, plants, oceans, and land. Unlike the carbon dioxide emitted when burning fossil fuels such as oil, diesel, gasoline, coal, or natural gas.

You founded the Biogas Academy to increase knowledge about biogas. Why specifically biogas?
− The Biogas Academy works to increase knowledge about biogas as it can play a significant role in the fight against the climate problem. With the knowledge available in Sweden and Swedish municipalities, all cities, regions, and countries worldwide can quickly build a fossil-free, smart, flexible, and reliable energy system. And we're talking about the near future. An example of this is Denmark, which had 1% biogas in the national gas distribution network in 2015. Today, just eight years later, the proportion is 40%.

What do we have to gain from using more biogas?
− All countries have a lot to gain from making fossil-free energy from their waste. It provides a more secure energy system since all countries have waste, enabling them to produce biogas. It ensures a secure energy supply independent of external factors such as politics and economics. Furthermore, it contributes to a better economy since manufacturing one's own fuel is profitable. For instance, Västerås' biogas-powered buses allow Svealandstrafiken to avoid importing diesel worth 50 million each year. These millions create jobs in Västmanland instead of paying for Russian or Norwegian oil imports.

Tell us about the food waste project you spearheaded in Stockholm's hospitals?
− Between 2010 and 2011, I introduced a food waste sorting model in all care units at Danderyds Hospital. Subsequently, I advocated for a 100% sorting requirement to be included in Stockholm County Council's (now "Region Stockholm") environmental program. In the following years, I implemented the same model (which does not use any disposable materials) at all hospitals in Stockholm County, including Capio St Görans Hospital. In the first year, the sorting yielded 650 tons of food waste. As the amount of discarded food became visible, interest in reducing food waste increased. It became easy to weigh the waste, facilitating the identification of measures, menu changes, serving methods, etc., that yielded the best results.

In the second year of sorting, Karolinska Hospital in Huddinge reduced its food waste by 50 tons. Overall, the model resulted in a better work environment for all involved, increased motivation for sorting due to education about the climate and environmental benefits of the new system, and significantly lower costs for hospitals, including disposable materials, waste management, and ultimately reduced food purchases. (50 tons. That adds up to savings!) Additionally, the biogas from hospitals is sufficient to drive over 100 biogas cars entirely climate-neutrally, fueled by gas produced in Stockholm.

If you had the power, what do you think should happen next to accelerate the transition?
− The EU is implementing mandatory food waste sorting in all member states from 2024. Sweden, Swedish municipalities, hotels, restaurants, and households are far ahead in deploying collection systems, but there's room for improvement in sorting and biogas production. At an international level, the EU is pushing forward with billion-dollar support for increased biogas production. Sweden is probably the most well-prepared country globally to increase biogas production from waste, but now is the time to prove it. The EU aims to increase production tenfold by 2030, and in Sweden, we need to follow Denmark and Italy's lead: present clear, national plans analyzing waste streams from agriculture and other industries and decide where biogas plants should be best constructed. And ensure they are built. Now. As an example, the manure from Arla's dairy farms in Sweden can produce biogas equivalent to 54 million liters of diesel per year. This is green energy waiting to contribute to the transition. (Arla's own trucks use 17 million liters of fuel per year).