Sustainability is about ecology, economy and equity.- Ralph Bicknese

Learning From Other Countries

earth-158805_640When it comes to Sustainable practices, there is a lot to feel encouraged about here in the U.S. With the city of Seattle being a prime setting, examples of both individuals and institutions that are ramping up their green efforts can be seen all over the place. While negligence is decreasing more and more, the country as a whole is still lagging behind in terms of recycling, with only 32.5% of the total waste in the U.S. being recycled. Several countries around the world have put unique recycling initiatives into motion, and the U.S. could stand to consider the examples below.


Sweden has found an incredible way to handle their waste: they use their burnt up trash to create heat and electricity, powering a quarter of a million homes! A tactic so brilliant that they’ve recently run out of trash. What a terrific problem to have. Luckily Norway is now paying Sweden to take their garbage; the conundrum solved with a bonus.


Japan sports a unique home appliance law that requires both consumers and manufacturers to recycle large appliances. The only drawback is the recycling fee that comes with it, which I would think might deter some from wanting to instill it here in the U.S. Perhaps if this was kept manageable we could still hope to steal this great idea.


The key to Belgium’s recycling success is their super advanced post-shredder technology, which is capable of taking the hard-to-process shredder waste that comes from newly recycled cars and separating the various materials found within it, thus making it more recyclable. This gives them an exceptional 91% scrap car recycling rate.


The Swiss have introduced a landfilling ban, which demands that all non-recyclable waste that is combustible be incinerated instead.


Canada does a great job recycling their tires, which are re-used in playgrounds and mixed with asphalt for road resurfacing. Their most exciting innovation, however, is Vancouver’s newly launched program to recycle cigarette butts. The bins will be placed around the city, with recycled cigarette butts being turned into different sorts of products. With cigarettes being one of the most frequently littered items in the world, this program will hopefully spark a recycling revolution.


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