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Can England win the World Cup? (for recycling)  

The World Cup is currently underway, and football fans worldwide are cheering on their teams, some tuning in to see their favourite players. Some players are busy giving interviews about their current club, but that’s for another blog. While the competition on the pitch is sure to be fierce, there’s also a battle happening off it – as countries compete to have the best recycling rate. So which country is currently in the lead, and what can England do to improve its ranking? In this blog, we explore some countries with the highest recycling rates and innovative approaches. 

How Extended Producer Responsibility helped Germany’s recycling rate 

Irrespective of metric, Germany has held the record for the highest recycling rate for a few years. There are several reasons why they have been so successful in reducing waste. One key factor is the focus on producer responsibility, which means that companies must take back and recycle their products at the end of their life cycle. England is introducing a similar principle next year. This system provides an incentive for companies to design more sustainable products, and it also helps to ensure that recyclable materials are properly collected and processed. In addition, Germany has a well-developed infrastructure for recycling, with a network of collection points and specialised facilities for processing different types of waste. This makes it easier for people to recycle and helps reduce the cost of recycling operations. As a result of these factors, Germany has been able to achieve a high recycling rate and significantly reduce its waste output. 


While some countries struggle to implement effective recycling programs, Switzerland has long been a leader. With a population of just over 8 million, the Swiss have achieved a recycling rate of 63%. This is partly because Switzerland has a highly centralised waste management system. All households must pay a monthly fee for garbage collection, and there is a strict ban on dumping rubbish in public places. As a result, there is a strong financial incentive to recycle. There are also special facilities for hazardous materials such as batteries and electronic waste. State workers, who monitor domestic waste bins, encourage people to separate waste better.  

Switzerland has long been a leader in environmental conservation, and its recent decision to end the practice of waste disposal in landfill sites is a prime example of this commitment. Instead, Switzerland now recycles its waste to convert it into usable energy or help conserve natural resources. This shift away from landfill disposal is not only good for the environment, but it also provides significant economic benefits.  

Gareth Bale, Ramsey and recycling rates in Wales 

Wales is a small country with a big heart regarding recycling. In 2019, the Welsh government reported that 64% of all waste was recycled, compared to just 45% in England. So, what makes Wales so unique when it comes to recycling? 

The latest figures show that food waste recycling is a significant factor in the gap between England and Wales. All Welsh local authorities have some form of food waste collection for households, which is reflected in the latest data with organics waste, food waste and garden waste representing 34% of the waste collected for reuse/recycling/composting in Wales by material. The 34% is broadly identical to the volume managed a year earlier. This shows that food waste recycling is an integral part of Wales’ recycling endeavours and is making a difference in the amount of waste sent to landfills. 

The Welsh Government has set an ambitious goal of recycling 70% of all waste by 2025 to reduce the environmental impact of waste and play a role in achieving a zero-waste future for Wales. As part of this goal, they propose changes to how recyclable materials are collected and segregated. Under the new system, households and businesses will be required to separate recyclable materials from general waste further to increase the overall recycling rate.  

Ultimately, Wale’s high recycling rate results from a combination of factors. By investing in infrastructure and providing financial incentives, the Welsh government has created an environment where recycling is easy and convenient. This has helped to change people’s habits and make recycling a way of life in Wales. 

Austria and the circular economy 

Now for the only country not in the World Cup this year, Austria! The circular economy has played a significant role in the nation’s results. The circular economy is an economic model that encourages the reuse and recycling of resources rather than disposing of them. In Austria, this has been promoted through initiatives such as extended producer responsibility laws, which place responsibility for recycling on manufacturers. This has resulted in a higher recycling rate for items such as electronics and packaging. In addition, the Austrian government has also invested in infrastructure such as recycling facilities and public education campaigns to help encourage citizens to recycle. As a result of these efforts, Austria has achieved a high recycling rate and reduced its environmental impact. 

South Korea’s recycling rate boosted 

South Korea has one of the highest recycling rates in the world. In 2015, the country recycled nearly 64 per cent of its waste. This is mainly due to the government’s commitment to environmental protection. In 2003, South Korea passed the Waste Management Act, which set targets for reducing the waste produced and increasing the recycling rate. The act also established a system of producer responsibility whereby manufacturers are required to cover the costs of recycling their products. As a result of these policies, South Korea has been able to reduce its overall waste output significantly. In addition, public education campaigns have helped to raise awareness of the importance of recycling. By working together, the government and citizens of South Korea have been able to create a more sustainable future. 

How Extended can producer responsibility (EPR) help England? 

So, what can we learn from these top recycling countries? Recycling is a complex issue with many different factors contributing to success. But, if there’s one thing that stands out, it’s the importance of a circular economy. Countries like Austria and South Korea have achieved high recycling rates by moving towards such. This means keeping resources in use for as long as possible and recovering and regenerating products and materials at the end of their life cycle. At Bywaters, we believe in the power of the circular economy and are committed to helping England reach its recycling potential. 

With the UK finally introducing extended producer responsibility (EPR) measures, it’s essential to look at what has worked in other countries to make the transition as smooth as possible. Germany is often hailed as having one of the most efficient recycling programs in the world, and a large part of that is due to EPR. The country has had some form of EPR since 1991 and has become more refined and practical. In addition to holding producers responsible for the disposal of their products, Germany also offers a variety of financial incentives to encourage recycling. For example, consumers can receive a rebate when they return certain items, such as electronics or batteries. As a result of these policies, Germany has been able to recycle up to 65% of its municipal waste. Similar procedures have been successfully implemented in other countries, proving that extended producer responsibility can encourage recycling. With the UK finally introducing these measures, there is hope that our country will be able to improve its recycling rates significantly. 

Join us today, and let’s get England into the top 5 recycling countries in the world! 


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