Recycling is extremely important because waste has a huge impact on our planet. Tons of harmful chemicals and greenhouse gasses are released from rubbish and landfill sites. By recycling, we keep the planet cleaner and free of pollution caused by that waste. At the same time, recycling greatly reduces the need for raw materials thus saving forests. Of course, all this is important if we intend to leave something from today’s world to future generations. All this starts at your home.
Now when we all know how much recycling is important and most people do recycle, what about sorting? This is also important. And not only sorting paper, cardboard, plastic, metal, coffee cups, and cartons, but sorting all these from garbage, food scraps, and materials that are only acceptable at a depot. And one of the reasons why we even bother sorting is because some of it is dangerous to transport or process at a specialized facility.
You can’t just put pressurized cylinders or containers, aerosol containers, or even batteries with the rest of garbage or waste because it could cause fires and explosions in trucks and the recycling machines.
Recycling in different parts of the world
First, you need to ask around about the rules and laws in your area about the recycling process. This is because the recycling process is not the same in different parts of the world and if you do something wrong you could get fined.
For example, in Switzerland, there are different slots for clear, green and brown glass. And recycling is completely free, but throwing away rubbish is not. Each of the rubbish bags has to have a sticker on it. Those stickers cost at least one euro each. In Denmark waste is not waste – it is a resource. More than 0.1% of the entire population is in the business of collecting waste.
In Germany they see sorting of waste as a cultural standard and, according to surveys, around 90% of Germans are willing to sort out their rubbish. In Italy, regulations vary from district to district. In Greece, recycling is a problem because only 17% of the entire waste produced is recycled. The list of different results goes on and on, but the main problem in all of these countries is the proper regulation or the lack of it.
Germany has the best regulations and the best recycling rate in the world. Austria is the second, followed by South Korea and Wales. All those countries manage to recycle between 52% and 56% of their waste. They all sort their waste.
Sorting Waste Correctly Is Not Complicated
You don’t need some special resources nor a lot of time to properly sort the waste. At first, you will need to adapt and get used to it, but there are smart ways to organize recycling. The most important thing to learn is what we can and can’t recycle.
- Pots and pans;
- Paper plates and napkins;
- Light Bulbs.
- Aluminum cans;
- metal food and beverage cans;
- Glass bottles and jars;
- Cereal and food boxes;
- Milk and juice cartons;
- Plastic bottles and jugs from #1-#7;
- Wide-mouth plastic containers;
- Mixed paper, newspaper, office paper, and junk mail;
- Magazines, phone books, and catalogs;
- Paperback and hardcover books;
- Aluminum foil and trays;
- Empty aerosol cans;
- Rigid plastics;
- Cardboard boxes and pizza boxes.
*You should also keep in mind that it would be nice to empty and rinse all containers before placing them in the bin.
*Also, your local recycling collector should have specific instructions for how and when to set out your recycling and what you can recycle in your country or state.
- Always decline any material you don’t need (plastic bags, plastic wraps, etc.);
- Always wash the leftover food from the discards;
- Compost everything you can (if you have a garden and can use the compost);
- Don’t crumple up the paper;
- You can’t recycle some types of paper like greaseproof and plasticized paper receipts from credit card machines and supermarkets, the paper with adhesive glue on it, dirty toilet paper (yuck), tax coupons and carbon paper;
- Squeeze the toothpaste – squeeze it good;
- Bottles and packs of medicine can’t be recycled normally and should not be thrown away with the other waste. You must take them to collection sites.
These are only some of the important steps you should follow to sort your recycling properly. Some countries are stricter with their laws, others just don’t care. Either way, you should do your best to help us become the “zero waste civilization”. One of the best examples for such a community is a small town of Kamikatsu in Japan – they have 32 categories of trash. Could you separate your waste into 32 categories?
Interesting related article: “How AI will improve recycling methods.”