Let’s talk recycling.

These days we all know how important it is to recycle, but there are some countries whose innovative approach has gone far beyond the usual to ensure that they get the best out of their waste.

Take Sweden for example; They have 34 Waste-to-Energy power plants in the country, which burn non-recyclable waste to generate enough electricity to power 250,000 households and contribute to dramatically reduced waste and emissions. The recycling rate is so successful that Sweden needs to import waste from other countries. 

In Japan, the strict recycling rules mean that individual households are responsible for sorting, treating, and segregating their household waste.  For example, before disposal, plastic containers must be washed, all labels removed, cartons folded to maximise space, then, all waste must be properly labelled with the household data, to ensure that individuals assume full responsibility and comply with all rules. There are no rubbish bins on city streets because everyone is responsible for their own waste disposal. 

In Switzerland, an awareness of the importance of recycling has been increased through training and national policies. In this case, efforts have focused on reducing non-recyclable waste with measures such as the ‘single bag’. To get rid of this type of waste, you must buy official garbage bags with a higher price, while recycling is free.

This has caused the volume of non-recyclable waste generated to decline by about 90 kilos per person per year compared to 20 years ago. Thanks to measures like this, about 93% of glass bottles or 91% of aluminium cans are currently recycled. In addition, the country has become a pioneer in the recycling of organic waste, which is used to make compost.

In Korea, just as in Switzerland, bags for recycling organic waste have a special price that’s used to fund the recycling process. The bags are deposited in automated bins that weigh food waste. To use the bins, residents are required to identify themselves using an ID card. The bins then charge the residents based on the amount of weight they deposit. The more you deposit, the more you pay. The outcome is that the country has managed to cut food waste from 130 kilos per person per year to less than 11. The organic waste collected is used to produce biogas to fuel power plants, crop fertilizers and livestock feed.

Above are just some of the innovative ways that other countries are trying to save out planet by not only recycling but creating less waste to begin with.

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