Which country recycles the most plastic?

Germany currently leads the race in recycling municipal solid waste with a whopping 68 percent recycling rate. Meanwhile, countries like Austria, South Korea, Wales, and Switzerland complete the top 5. As of 2019, the United States has yet to be included in the top 10.

At just a 34 percent success rate, the US sends a measly percentage of its waste into recycling pools, way below than many other countries worldwide.

Austria, Germany, and Taiwan: What do they do differently?

Austria stays with the top recycling rate out of any country in the world. With 63 percent of all waste diverted from landfills, its overall performance has been pretty consistent at a very high level for the past decade, according to the EFA (European Environmental Agency).

The country has the longest tradition of diverting waste from landfills. With an established recycling system, most of its generated municipal solid waste is either recycled or incinerated. 

A report compiled with the Planet-Aid reveals that Germany is not too far behind Austria. With 62 percent of its waste going through the closed-loop process, Germany successfully keeps its collected waste from landfills. Taiwan is keeping its pace, too, as it effortlessly hits a strong 60 percent success rate of recycling.

Other countries have followed suit, albeit a different approach.

In a totally different system, Cairo in Egypt shows even greater success than the aforementioned locations. Thanks to the Zaballeen, they have developed their very own recycling program that proved to be effective in their location.

In a documentary last 2010, Garbage Dreams, recyclers collect the urban waste and gather income from reusing, sorting, and reselling the materials they collect. This only shows that despite having no established official or contemporary recycling facilities or sanitation services, recycling is still a possibility.

The Zaballeen have created the world‘s most effective resource recovery system. What they have done is actually saving our earth. Out of the trash, they lifted themselves out of poverty and have created a solution to one of the world’s most challenging crises.

Setting the recycling bar high is Brazil. The country recently broke global records for its aluminum recycling. In 2014, the country recycled 98.4 percent of consumable packaging. Since then, it has been the undisputed top recycler of consumer packaging in the world. That high percentage amounts to 289,500 tons of aluminum beverage cans. 

Whether it was encouraged by their economy which was in recession or not is immaterial. Their efforts to responsibly recycle their waste has earned them respect from all parts of the world.

Managing C&D waste

Countries like Germany and Austria, who lead the recycling race, have successfully established C&D waste management allowing them to properly manage and dispose of their trash for several decades.

Austria, which remains to be the world’s best in terms of recycling plastic waste, has C&D initiatives on state and local levels. For instance, the city of Vienna created guidelines to reduce C&D waste that is collected and recovered by smaller companies.

Common questions about which country recycles the most plastic

What other countries rank high in recycling plastic?

Another top recycling country is Singapore. It is able to send 59 percent of its trash to be reused and recycled. South Korea recycles 49 percent of tossed goods. The United Kingdom recycles 39 percent of its accumulated wastes. Closing out the top ten are Italy, which is able to recycle 36 percent of its trash, and France following closely behind with 35 percent.

Which country is plastic-free?

Despite India putting in massive efforts to be the world’s first-ever plastic-free country, the idea itself is still nothing but a dream. With global warming being a worldwide problem, every country has been trying to find ways to reduce and possibly eradicate plastic use. However, due to our over-dependence on plastic, it could take decades before we could see visible changes and improvements.

Which country banned plastic first?

In 2002, Bangladesh made headlines when it became the first country to ever ban plastic bags. It initially prohibited its people to use thin plastic bags, which were meant for single-use and most likely ended up in landfills and the oceans. This move inspired and pressured other nations to follow suit.

As it seems, in order to implement a high success rate for nationwide recycling programs, there are a few deciding factors. 

t is best for programs to have an established system through legislation, industry, or entrepreneurs incentive.

It would also be great to have a personal motive or financial necessity, like that of Brazil’s. Because of their economic standstill, they were forced to look for ways to cut down on production costs. Their problem led to a solution that benefited both their economy and the environment.