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We've Bin Around the World

Date: 27-May-13

Here at Planet Ark we're a bit crazy about the environment, and sometimes (to the embarrassment of our friends and family) we're crazy about recycling bins, too. When we travel, we come back with as many photos of recycling systems around that world as we do of the other tourist sights. This is our first installment of some of the insights we've gained on the diversity of recycling methods internationally!

Mabuhay ang Pilipinas! [Long live the Philippines!]

Recycling photos from around the world

In the Philippines, most recyclable items have financial value and they are collected and on-sold as commodities. Recycling services vary around the country with some areas sharing communal public place recycling bins, while others have little source separation by householders. In these situations, recyclable and non-recyclable wastes are taken to basic landfill sites where generations of waste picking families earn a living by retrieving valuable items (pictured). Materials like plastic bottles, copper wiring and even car tyres are collected and sold to waste dealers for recycling. Most commonly, self-employed recycling entrepreneurs travel within their own neighbourhoods once a week, calling out to residents to bring down their recyclable bottles, containers and paper, for which they are paid small amounts of cash. 

Ole! in Spain

In much of Spain and Portugal residents have to take their waste and recycling to collection points located on every street. Bins aren't collected from the home. Traditionally, these bins were just large skip bins or bottle banks that looked ugly and untidy. Some are now being replaced by above ground receptacles atop underground skip bins (Picture 2). To empty the skips, a high-pressure air hose is inserted into a valve and the skip bins are raised to street level. The newest technology is the self-emptying vacuum system that connects public bins to a waste collection point via a network of underground pipes. People drop their recycling in the bin and it's sucked to a central collect point up to a kilometre away. This system handles in minutes what manual collection would take all day to do and reduces the costs and disruption of conventional collections. 

Big In Japan

Recycling is big in Japan making it one of the best performing countries in the world. Fluorescent lamps (including compact fluros) contain small amounts of hazardous mercury meaning they should be recycled carefully at the end of their life. This collection bin (Picture 3), which is located at the front entrance of an electronics store, has compartments for various sizes of tubes. During the recycling process the components including glass, metal and mercury, are separated from each other and recycled into new products. 

Recycling is Cruisey

Ever wondered what international cruise ships do with their waste? Firstly, ships must comply with international, domestic and state laws from various agencies. Cruise lines who are members of the International Council of Cruise Lines would usually sort all waste containers twice and carry their recycling (paper, cans, glass, batteries, printer cartridges) until they reach a port that accepts the materials. The cruise line then pays for its removal. Since space is at a premium ships need state of the art crushers, compacters, incinerators and cleaning equipment to ensure the ship is not overflowing with untreated waste, especially after unexpected extra days at sea. Ships also need highly advanced liquid treatment systems for graywater (cabin sinks, laundry), blackwater (toilets, medical facility) and bilge water (machine and engine oil collection).

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