Plants deal with environmental toxins

There are lots of old rubbish tips in Sweden that continue to leach metals and other environmental toxins into our waters even though they are no longer used. One of the country’s old landfills can be found in Älvkarleby. Here, the municipality of Älvkarleby and Bioremed AB are trying to clean up the contaminated area by planting salix, a fast-growing kind of willow, on the landfill site. The first harvest showed that the roots, stems and leaves of salix are absorbing toxic substances – including PFAS – from the soil.

All water moves in a closed loop within the area. The leachate from the landfill is discharged into two ponds, where it is then reused to water the salix, and so it goes round and round.

Harvesting and incinerating the salix will eventually decontaminate the landfill site, and in the meantime the stream will be protected from the environmental toxins that previously flowed into the Baltic Sea.