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Five countries excelling in recycling around the world

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Recycling around the world

Packaging taxes, clear communications and downweighting were some of the solutions discussed in the recent Guardian debate (Thursday 19th January). The debate, featuring a panel of experts including LINPAC Group marketing and innovation director Dr Helene Roberts, addressed the UK’s falling recycling rates and what can be done to reverse the trend.   

An increase in population and continuing economic growth are causing waste volumes to rise and in turn could potentially see a further drop in the future national recycling rate. It’s estimated that globally human generated waste will more than triple by 2100 to reach an astonishing four billion tonnes. 

Germany and Wales were suggested to be the European recycling role models during the debate, which got us thinking about what the rest of the world is doing in terms of recycling. 

We have collated a list of innovative ways of how the globe is embracing the recycling movement and turning this ‘waste’ into something more positive for future sustainability.

Helping the planet and the people in Germany 

The Germans present an excellent example of how “save-as-you-recycle” can lead a country to recycling success. Their current recycling rate has risen 16% since 2000, helped along by this initiative amongst others. 25 cents are rewarded for recycling plastic bottles and 7 cents for glass, not only reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill, but also helping the poor who recycle those items that others have thrown away. The fact that the system provides a large array of colour coded bins for all types of waste facilitates the situation further.

Powering homes in Sweden

An astonishing 51% of waste in Sweden is used to generate heat. Plants with specialised ovens burn rubbish and in turn provide heat to thousands of local homes. The country has the world’s best network of district heating plants, a sustainable alternative to heat and electricity fuelled by gas or other fossil fuels. However, the sheer level of recycling efficiency in many Nordic countries has meant that they no longer have enough waste to meet the needs of the heating plants. Yes, you guessed right… they actually import waste, the majority of which actually comes from Britain.

Trash: A healthy incentive in Indonesia

Out of the 250 million Indonesian population, more than 60% don’t have medical insurance. Garbage Clinical Insurance (GCI) is a successful scheme that encourages low-income households to recycle rubbish. It uses the revenue raised to finance a health micro-insurance system and in return offers basic healthcare services in three clinics.

Durable plastic roads in India 

Growing levels of plastic litter in India led to the lightbulb moment that was plastic roads. Jambulingham Street was one of India’s first plastic roads and was created from shredded plastic waste. The roads are more durable than traditional streets, withstanding extreme weather without developing cracks and potholes. Today, there are more than 21,000 miles of plastic road in India, a development which shows no signs of slowing any time soon.

From landfill to public park 

Transforming retired landfills into public parks is becoming the done thing it seems. Take a look at these 8 incredible parks created from landfills which feature in Israel, Hong Kong, Singapore and the USA.

Making music in Paraguay

Every day, about three million pounds of solid waste is dumped in Cateura, Paraguay. The Recycled Orchestra has decided to make music from rubbish. With violins made from cans, wooden spoons and bent forks, to cellos made from oil drums, the orchestra has performed for the Pope and even supported artists such as Stevie Wonder. See the documentary Landfill Harmonic for more on this inspirational story.

As a race, our knowledge of waste management is constantly improving. We are presenting more innovative and life changing ideas to overcome the problem of excess waste and turning it into something more positive: a future resource.

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