Top of the Pops: The Five countries winning at recycling.
When it comes to recycling industry experts all maintain success lies in the three ‘Rs’ – reducing, recycling and reusing. Only by achieving all three of these that we can start to work towards a sustainable future, so we at Brantlegh Waste have worked to compile the three top performing countries, that just rather put us in Britain to shame.
Boasting a 65% recycling rate in 2013, Germany is a pretty worthy country. Using their infamous Teutonic efficiency to do some good for the environment. With up to five colour coded bins, and an extra special receptacle for dead animals, German citizens have demonstrated an impressive attitude towards recycling. Enthusiastic and dedicated, they have beaten every target set by the government. However, this is seen even at the manufacturing level – in 1996 the Closed Substance Cycle and Waste Management Act (try saying that three times fast) forced businesses to eliminate waste by using one or more of suggested strategies. Serious government legislation complemented by an enthusiastic public has seen Germany praised for its impressive results.
South Korea may be a small country at just over 100,000 square kilometres, but with a population of over 50 million people half of whom live in the capital it is essential that South Korea is able to manage its waste. With some incredibly powerful laws South Korea has been steadily decreasing its waste since the mid-80s. In fact the government has set a goal to reach a 3% landfill rate and 87% recycle rate by 2020. A figure which, given the progress made in this small country, could well be achievable.
Whilst perhaps not famous for its landscapes or tourist attractions, Slovenia is fast becoming the recycling underdog of Europe. With a recycle rate of 35%, and an impressive mere 350kg of waste per citizen (200kg less than the European average,) its stats are praiseworthy. However, the real jewel of Slovenia’s recycling crown is its capital city Ljublgana. In a recent report which detailed waste management in 28 European waste capital’s Ljublgana came out on top. Impressively, in 2014 it was the first European capital well on its way to becoming Zero Waste, and of the five finalists was the one city without an incineration plant nor any plans to build one.
Famous for its meatballs and that small furniture store Ikea, Sweden is, quite rightly, proud of its recycling credentials. Whilst only 38% of waste was recycled in 1975, more than 99% of all households are now recycling. Government legislation and a willing public means that no recycling station is more than 400 metres from any residential area, and all rubbish is sorted into separate bins. Much of the recycled waste is converted into energy, which in fact has done so well Sweden now needs to look to other countries to import waste as they are close to running out.
Switzerland is a slightly controversial entry into this category: with phenomenal recycling level the Swiss really do pave the way. However, whilst they recycle most of what they produce, they do produce rather a lot. According to the latest stats in 2013 5.71 million tonnes of municipal solid waste was generated. An enormous amount that demonstrates that recycling needs to be combined with a commitment to consuming responsibly