While the benefits of recycling are widely known, it is still surprising how much of an improvement can still be made, and the reasons as to why in many countries, recycling rates are not as high as they could be. We could point to many issues such as weak laws; lack of adequate processing facilities, confusion over what can and cannot be recycled, but these are all problems that are in theory, relatively simple to solve. Below, we look at a few ways that can help to improve rates of recycling.
Invest in recycling facilities
One of the main barriers to recycling is the lack of facilities to process what is being recovered. If there are no sorting or recovery facilities within a reasonable distance to where the waste is being collected, it would usually not be financially viable and therefore almost always out of the question. National and local governments can choose to give greater focus on investment in such facilities, and this may not be so hard to do seeing as environmental issues are becoming of increasing importance to the public. Without this, it would be even more difficult to get backing.
Private companies should be given benefits or subsidies in return for investing in recycling facilities, which in turn will improve recycling rates. Procurement of equipment such as an industrial cardboard shredder or specialist waste collection trucks, should be made a priority to encourage such investments.
Give incentives or fines
We have seen in many countries that offering a few cents per bottle returned has made a huge difference in the amount recycled. With a small incentive such as this, not only is waste being redirected from potentially the landfill to be recycled, it is also pushing the responsibility to the people to make their way to sorting machines in order to do so. These are usually based within supermarkets where people often visit anyway, reducing the need to have large trucks on the roads collecting the waste.
On the other hand, fines can be imposed for failing to recycle. In some countries, waste will not be collected unless the waste is segregated properly. No one wants to wake up and find out their waste has not been collected, so this encourages people to segregate properly, instilling discipline in the process.
It is often difficult enough as it is to convince people to segregate waste into different types of products to be recycled, what more so if they have nowhere to learn about the subject? As a community, it is imperative that people are educated about the need to recycle and to dispel any misconceptions about the process. A website should be created or leaflets should be distributed to explain the reasons for recycling and the benefits it can bring to the community. Education should start from an early age to instill good habits and those in charge should work closely with schools to enable this to happen.