It’s common for the news to tell us all about how the world is facing issues with rubbish removal and how to get rid of all the trash we produce. Even lately there’s been word of how plastic pollution has been poorly handled by countries like the US, Japan & Germany (and, yes, even the UK) and that Malaysia has been taking the brunt of our ‘recycling’ rubbish.
This failure to responsibly remove waste begs the question of whether or not there is any hope for ways to properly clear junk. Luckily there’s already plenty of fascinating & fantastic means of recycling & removing rubbish in an effective manner, embraced by countries all around the world. From large to small, these countries have found ways of transforming their trash into treasures.
Image courtesy of Ecobot
1. Colombia: A slightly selfish approach to recycling, perhaps, but one that gets results is Colombia’s Ecobot is somewhat akin to a vending machine, only customers provide the likes of cans & bottles and the machine gives out coupons & vouchers for the likes of restaurants, clothing stores and even Uber rides.
Conceived by Santiago Aramburo, the Co-Founder of the company who came up with the notion when admiring Germany’s approach to recycling, Ecobot is a breath of fresh air to Colombia. The country as a whole doesn’t really embrace recycling in general, with government reports stating that only 17% of garbage is reprocessed, which is why this Ecobot idea is important.
2. Indonesia: What might seem like a leap in logic has actually introduced an incredibly valuable service to a community. Spearheaded by Dr Gamala Albinsaid, Garbage Clinical Insurance trades garbage for medicine & medical services. This is achieved by converting any organic waste into the likes of fertilizers & compost as well as recyclable products that are then sold, with the profits funding said medicine & medical services.
Garbage Clinic Insurance has become so successful that the company runs its own clinic and works closely with four other clinics to help the people of Malang City. Reports from 2015 stated that Garbage Clinical Insurance has helped approximately 3,500 uninsured people get health care, with more and more people being helped every year.
Image courtesy of Enerkem
3. Canada: As expected from a country that has always adhered to a progressive mindset, Canada based Enerkem is a recycling company with innovative garbage-treatment processes. These processes convert non-recyclable and non-compostable waste into ethanol and methanol, both of which are renewable biofuels, and even began producing ethanol in 2017.
This kind of approach to rubbish removal serves as a fairly constructive way of clearing junk whilst doing something positive for the country; that is to say, providing energy. These processes also help to reduce greenhouse emissions, so it’s a ‘two birds, one stone’ deal!
Image courtesy of I Got Garbage
4. India: India has plenty of eco-friendly approaches to garbage, such as the I Got Garbage movement, but possibly the most exciting means of rubbish removal is how Professor Rajagopalan Vasudevan plans to use plastic waste. Known as ‘Plastic Man’, Vasudevan has developed a way to transform plastic into a substitute for bitumen; the main ingredient in asphalt used for road construction.
These techniques have already been implemented too. As of 2015 11 Indian states, with over 3,000 miles of road created by this plastic waste-bitumen substitute. As Vasudevan’s methods don’t involve any massive costs and, really, don’t make any drastic changes to road-laying procedures it seems that this innovative use of plastic waste will continue to spread throughout India and, with any luck, beyond.
5. Denmark: As well as setting a world record for generating wind energy Denmark has dedicated itself to being eco-friendly when it comes to rubbish removal. Denmark’s recycling system embraces a lifestyle for reusing materials, yet the rubbish that can’t be salvaged is incinerated.
Incinerating this garbage creates energy for both domestic & business buildings. Denmark hasn’t stopped at just generating energy from over 15 million tonnes of garbage, but they have pledged dedication to adding a whopping 50% on top of the pre-existing amount of domestic trash being sent to the recycling process by 2022.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia User Sengkang
6. Singapore: Serving as Singapore’s one and only landfill, the Semakau Landfill is situated among the southern islands of the country. Designed to house ash for Singapore’s incineration plants, the Semakau Landfill is surprisingly clean and, some could easily argue, scenic. It was also designed with the environment in mind, constructed using silt screens to keep any of the waste within it from impacting the surrounding environment; including the corals around it.
This considerate design sets the Semakau Landfill apart from conventional landfills, setting an example as to how landfills should be designed. It’s also an exemplary case for how maintenance of said landfills should be conducted, with regular water testing being carried out to ensure that the local environment isn’t being affected by either the site or the materials within.
7. Germany: Germany has decided to tackle rubbish at the source; in the home. Embracing a lifestyle that doesn’t even get to throwing something in the recycling bin, citizens and businesses in Germany adhere to the ‘Green Dot’ system; one that charges a fee for the amount of trash and packaging they discard.
This mindset, one that essentially makes you pay for using more trash, means that citizens and businesses are endeavouring to get more out of their possessions for longer. Some reports have even indicated that the overall garbage production has been reduced by a staggering million tonne of garbage every year thanks to the Green Dot system.
Image courtesy of Kwuntong.org
8. Hong Kong, China: What was once a gigantic landfill was transformed into a beautiful playground, all thanks to Hong Kong’s Sai Tso Wan landfill. This landfill used to just be a hole filled with 1.6 million tonnes of rubbish, but in 1981 the decision was made to fill the hole with soil. Surprisingly this wasn’t a bad call, as a playground could be built on top of it in 2004.
There’s more to the Sai Tso Wan landfill, or rather, the Sai Tso Wan Eco-Park, as the entire playground is powered by energy generated by wind turbines, solar cells and even the methane created from all of the garbage decomposing. It’s like making self-sustaining lemonade out of rotting lemons.
Image courtesy of Kwuntong.org
9. Uganda: Ruganzu Bruno & Eco Art Uganda’s novel approach to recycling isn’t quite on the same scale as Hong Kong’s but it’s certainly a creative and charming way of dealing with rubbish. The eco-conscious artists have created a small ‘amusement park’ from waste to promote environmental awareness and add something undeniably delightful to the community.
There are fully functioning swings, the painted & sturdy walls and even life-sized board games to play; all made from plastic bottles and other recycled materials. The amusement park may be fun for the kids but it’s also an incredibly effective educational tool, showcasing to a younger generation how to put the ‘creative’ into ‘creative waste management’.
Image courtesy of Kwuntong.org
10. Sweden: Last but not least is the country so good at rubbish removal that they’re trying to get other country’s rubbish. Swedish trash removal companies burn waste and, using the heat, creates energy as a substitute for fossil fuel. It’s because of this that Sweden goes through their own garbage too quickly (and, too efficiently some might say) and thus needs to import it from other countries to keep up the phenomenal energy production.
These innovative designs and recycling-style approach to junk removal are all born from the country’s progressive approach to environmentalism, having imposed heavy taxes on the fossil fuel industry way back in 1991. Thanks to this mindset and set-in-place approach to rubbish removal Sweden has an exceptional recycling record, one that results in only 1% of their trash going into landfills.
Those were our 10 favourite ways that countries around the world have revolutionised their approach to rubbish removal. We admire their methods but we’re still happy with our methods here in London! Do you know of any other innovative ways countries around the world have approached junk & trash removal? Let us know via Facebook or twitter!