Recycling around the world varies drastically by country. Sadly, the United States doesn’t measure up to the world’s top recycling nations … not by a long shot. To encourage recycling, many states in the US have put 5-10 cent deposits on bottles or drink containers, and there are cities in the United States that recycle by requirement. However the country still has a very, very long way to go; only 32.5% of the total waste in the United States is recycled! This a very low number considering the large population. Perhaps the US could learn from the following countries who take recycling very seriously — so seriously that one has actually run out of garbage!
In honor of America Recycles Day, which falls on November 15th, click through for some super cool recycling ideas that have been put into practice by countries around the world. They are very inspiring to say the least!
1. Sweden: Turn Garbage into Energy
Known for their passion for recycling, Sweden goes one step further than anyone else, powering a quarter of a million homes with burnt up waste. The city’s garbage is used to create heat and electricity, but they’ve recently found themselves in a bit of a pickle: they’ve run out of garbage! Thankfully Norway has come to the rescue and is not only paying Sweden to take their garbage, but is importing it over for their use. Genius!
2. Italy: Charge for Waste
Rome has become quite strict regarding the whole recycling issue: if you don’t separate your recycling from your waste and you have a recycling bin within 500 meters from your front door, you can be fined up to 619 Euros ($833 US dollars)!
3. Switzerland: Landfilling Ban
Switzerland’s recycling rate is one of the highest in the world — and for good reason. The country charges for their disposal of junk; you must use an official (expensive) grey refuse bag to dispose of your garbage. Prices for the bags range from $1.64 to $9.60 USD each, depending on the size. Because of this, the Swiss are very diligent with their recycling. Switzerland has also introduced a landfilling ban, demanding that all non-recycled combustible waste be incinerated.
4. Canada: Reuse the Old
Canada, where I live, has the standard box collection system for recycling. In Ontario, Manitoba, Quebec, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia, we have blue bins and blue boxes. Blue bags are used in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and Labrador. One of the most interesting ways Canada recycles materials is how they treat their tires: tires are re-used in playgrounds and mixed with asphalt for road resurfacing.
Vancouver has just launched a pilot program to recycle cigarette butts … yes, you read that correctly! These recycling bins will be posted around the city and once collected, they will be recycled into different products including plastic pallets. This is a huge deal, as cigarettes are one of the most littered items in the world.
5. Germany: Render Fat For Products
Germany is very diligent with their bin system. In fact, they even have a separate recycling bin for dead animals. How does one recycle an animal? Dead dogs, deer, or other creatures that are found on the side of the road or die from other causes are taken to nearby facilities and are then rendered down for their fat. The fat is then used for lip balms and other products.
The country is yet another that charges for garbage disposal. The cost of emptying a 60-liter bin will run you at $8.87 USD. That definitely adds up, and the larger your bin, the higher the cost, but recycling is always free.
6. Japan: Appliance Disposal Fees
Japan has had their own Home Appliance Law that’s been in effect for over 10 years now. It places the responsibility of recycling on everyone from the consumers to the manufacturers. If you need to get rid of a large appliance, you are required to pay a recycling fee and purchase a ticket. The fees depend on the appliance, brand, and size of the unit. The cost of recycling a small television, for example, would run you about $19.30 USD, while a refrigerator is a higher fee at $32.16.
Facilities such as the Panasonic Eco Technology Centre then shred the appliances into small bits for recycling. You can even watch the process if you choose to!
7. Belgium: Innovative Technologies
Belgium has a recycling rate of 91% when it comes to scrap cars, thanks to their state-of-the-art post shredder technologies and their goal is to hit the 95% mark by 2015! Once a car is recycled, shredder waste is what remains and that in itself is a difficult material to recycle as it’s a mix of all kinds of different materials. Post shredder technology makes it possible to recover useful raw materials from the shredder waste by using mechanical separation techniques.