We often overlook the importance of waste management in our day to day life, yet we all know that, as individuals and companies, we have a social and corporate responsibility to understand the potential environmental impact of our recycling decisions.
This year, we reached Earth Overshoot Day – the day when humanity has used more resources than our planet can renew in one year – on the 1 August. In 1970, Earth Overshoot Day was 1 December. This week, our blog looks at global recycling rates, to see how countries around the world are embracing the ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ mantra.
Global Recycling Rates – Who is Top of the Recycling Pops?
According to a report compiled by Eunomia, Germany is leading the world recycling chart, with an impressive recycling rate of 56.1%. Austria comes second, with 53.8%. These countries recycle between 52% and 56% of their municipal waste, with Switzerland recycling almost 50%. To support their country’s impressive recycling rates, paper suppliers in Germany provide environmentally-friendly, biodegradable, and recyclable products, including Kraft paper, newsprint and wood-free.
All of the countries noted in the above chart have in common, government policies that encourage recycling, making it easier for households and businesses to recycle waste. Also, with good funding and financial incentives for recycling, they set performance targets and objectives for local and municipal authorities.
In the UK, the Welsh Assembly has set an ambitious recycling target of zero waste by 2050. The report notes that Wales could become a “global leader” in recycling, outdoing Germany as early as 2018 if it meets it ambitious targets. The EU is also looking to adopt a new target for 2030, with the expected target to be in the region of 65% for all EU countries.
Sweden, which does not feature within the chart, reports that it recycles almost all of the waste it produces; this is perhaps down to how the Swedes define ‘recycling’. The country counts only the energy recovery from waste incineration in the form of recycling.
No more garbage! – China’s trash ban
In July 2018, China announced its plans to ban the import of over 24 varieties of solid waste, including plastic and unsorted paper. The ban takes effect from September 2018.
China has been the destination for scrap and waste materials for recycling from a number of countries, including the USA and Canada for a number of years. In fact, waste is the 6th largest US export to China – a business worth $5 billion annually, which is now in danger of sinking.
So with the Chinese door closing on foreign waste, what are the plans for countries currently exporting their waste there? Several countries, including the UK, are now considering imposing taxes on plastic items to help reduce usage and encourage recycling.
Australia – The proactive southern hemisphere
In Australia, 51% of the household waste gets recycled, on par with northern European countries, and exceeding the average recycling rate of 42% of the 28 countries in the EU. When one considers the unique geography and dispersed population of Australia, this is seen as quite an achievement.
So what can we do as individuals? What small changes can we make to ‘Reuse, Reduce, Recycle? This is of course a topic that one can read up on extensively, but we have noted below some of the simplest ways that we can all play a part in protecting the planet and reducing landfill:
- Say no to straws: Whether at home or at a bar, plastic straws are a single use item which are not necessary, and contribute the most in sea pollution, affecting marine life.
- Reuse and recycle cardboard boxes: If you take delivery of anything wrapped in cardboard, make sure you put the packaging in your recycling bin. Or maybe you could reuse it at home for storage?
- Choose paper or cardboard over plastic bags and bottles: recycling cardboard and paper is much easier than plastic. So, when you have a choice, steer clear of plastic in the supermarket and takeaway restaurant.
- Recycle paper: There are different ways to recycle paper at home. An easy one is to re-use the gift bag and wrapping paper that we all use when giving gifts.
- Buy recycled paper: it’s easy to switch to a recycled product – check the credentials of the product you are buying or intend to order for your business.
Small steps, taken collectively, can make a difference!
PG Paper offers an extensive range of recycled paper and packaging products to meet your business needs. We’re always happy to assist with any queries that you may have. Please send your enquiries to [email protected] and a member of the team will be in touch!