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By Cristina Bisbal Delgado
In recent years, Spanish society has witnessed - and participated in - an almost radical change written with recycled material. Almost without realizing it, in just a few years, we have managed to make the gesture of separating waste absolutely natural and everyday. And the benefits of this transformation are beyond question. It is possible that one of the reasons for the success of waste separation has to do with the simple system that has been imposed in our country. Óscar Martín, CEO of Ecoembes, tells it: “In Spain we basically have four containers: yellow for plastic containers, cans and tetrabrik; blue for paper and cardboard; green for glass containers; and orange, gray or brown - according to the municipality - for the rest of the waste that does not go to the previous ones ”. Almost all European countries have a similar system, but with peculiarities. These are some of the most curious.
Belgium: each garbage bag, 2 euros
It is probably the most envious case, because it is the European country that recycles the most packaging, an example to follow. Its system —for colors and types of packaging— is very similar to Spanish, but with variations that complicate things a bit. The garbage bags are official (not just anyone is worth it), they are not cheap (between 1 and 2 euros, depending on size) and there is a color for each type of waste. Also, they cannot be removed to the container just any day. If you err in the color or the day, you can get fined ...
Germany: the bottle is returned
In addition to the container system, there is another that is only valid for recycling beverage containers: the deposit, return and return system (SDDR). Citizens pay a tax when they buy this type of packaging that is returned to them only if they deposit them in perfect condition in machines located in the supermarkets where they bought them. It is not comfortable for users and entails high costs for businesses, which is why many countries have discarded them. This is also the case in Sweden.
Sweden: import garbage from others
They can boast that only 1% of the domestic garbage produced by their citizens ends up in landfills. They have achieved this with a system called, in its acronym in English, WTE —Waste To Energy, something like garbage to energy. Waste is transformed into energy by incinerating it with a filter system that is less polluting than most. Such has been the success of the method that, in 2012, they began to import garbage from other countries.
Switzerland: not all glass is the same
The glasses must be separated by color. The reason? Colored glass cannot be made transparent again. In other words, only other colored bottles are manufactured with green or amber bottles.
Japan: put order in their waste
Its inhabitants must clean the bottles and remove the labels before placing them in the container. Plastic containers and tetrabrik's should be folded and stacked so that they take up less space.
UK: they stick to a calendar
It does not have a unique container color code. Each City Council decides its own, so one must inquire before throwing the garbage into the containers. It is also convenient to ask the day that the garbage truck passes, because that is when the bags must be transferred to the bins.