‘One person’s trash is another person’s treasure’, and this relational concept remains true for communities and countries. This goes someway to explaining why some nations have adopted environmentally proactive policies and others have not. Countries emerging from the bottom rung and who are becoming more developed, often, spurn their waste, like the chamber pot in the age of the flushing toilet and modern plumbing. New wealth lends itself to flash cars and other examples of conspicuous consumption. These folks do not want to waste time thinking about their rubbish.

Why Have Some Countries Adopted an Environmentally Friendly Conscience, But Not Others?

There is, of course, a lot of money to be made in taking care of other people’s trash. Indeed, waste management is fast becoming a lucrative industry in the developed western nations. The outward indication for visitors that they are in a wealthy part of town is the absence of rubbish from the streets. Paying people to pick up the trash and take it to depots and facilities on the other side of town is all part of the gentrification of suburbs. Click here for examples of this service. This is happening on a larger scale too.

Sweden has been importing waste from neighbouring nations, because it has run out of its own. It incinerates the waste from dozens of European countries and heats its communities utilising the energy generated. Less than 1% of Swedish internal waste has gone to landfill every year, since 2011. Plus, about half of its electricity is sourced from renewable energy sources. The Swedes were one of the first nations to recognise that there is money in waste management and they grabbed the industry by its recyclables and squeezed hard. In comparison the United Kingdom, has been dragging the chain.

In the UK, they are struggling to reach a 50% recycling of all rubbish figure by 2020 and have come to the waste management game late in the day. The European Union has been driving much of the action in recycling throughout Europe and now that the UK are leaving the EU, it will be interesting to see if they continue to aim for improvement. There are worse stories, as in places like Malta, which has an antiquated waste management system or lack of any real system, full stop. Dogs in the streets feed on bagged rubbish left idle and uncollected on pavements. Waste management and recycling are vital, if we are to continue on this planet with ever more people populating our communities.