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Alternative Approaches To Waste

Taking a very slightly different approach to waste or an alternative waste management approach can lead to a significant boost in recycling rates. Financial incentives are an excellent motivator but there are multiple other ways to encourage people to recycle more…. Here are some examples from various different countries where the people involved have ‘thought outside the box’ and come up with an innovative solution that makes a big difference.

Feeding Strays In Istanbul

An ingenious individual in Turkey came up with the concept of a recycling bank that would encourage local people to recycle more plastic bottles and metal cans whilst providing a lifeline for stray animals that would otherwise go for days without food and water. It is estimated that there are in the region of 150,000 stray dogs wandering the streets of this city alone, so even in the absence of any figures to account for the thousands of stray cats, it is clear to see that this is a huge problem accounting for many hungry tummies.

The recycling bank is designed to operate by solar power so it is eco-friendly in this respect. The income generated by the recyclable plastic and metal deposited in the bank covers the cost of the food that is distributed in small portions each time materials are deposited.

The design has been a great success and plans are in process for more of these innovative recycling banks to be distributed to other towns across Turkey where similar issues exist with stray animals.

Bottle Refunds

In all Austrian supermarkets, bottles can be returned in exchange for a refund of up to 30 cents per bottle. In many other countries throughout Europe crated bottles are also returned for a refund, enabling the consumer to save money. This financial incentive is of course not a new idea, in the UK, up until the 1980’s this was common practise for many types of glass bottles. Financial incentives work as they provide great motivation for consumers to recycle responsibly.

Stickers In Switzerland

In Switzerland, residents are required to purchase stickers to adhere to their refuse bags or they will not be collected. Again, there is a direct financial incentive. Each sticker costs one euro, so the more waste you dispose of, the more you must pay. This motivates people to recycle more efficiently and create less waste.

Extending The Lifespan Of Products

A growing number of companies across the globe are making improvements to the aftercare service they offer consumers and in particular making it easier for them to repair items and continue to use them rather than dispose of them and purchase new ones.

Apple are a great example of a company who offer excellent aftercare. In the past, once the battery on an Apple device was spent, it could not be replaced because the batteries were soldered in. Nowadays it is possible to obtain a battery replacement in store and have a brand new battery put into your iPad, iPhone or iPod, extending its lifespan. Once the device is out of its warranty period there is a small fee for this service.

More companies following the same green ethos will ultimately result in less waste – great news for consumers and the environment.

Putting Used Shoes To good Use

Nike is another brand that has taken steps to minimise the waste created by their products. Their Reuse A Shoe program which has proven to be highly successful takes used shoes and recycles them into soft surfaces suitable for playgrounds and sports areas. Each pair of trainers that is recycled in this practical way results in one less pair sitting in landfill.

RecycleBank Rewards

This reward program operates in many states throughout America and works by rewarding households with points based on the amount of waste they recycle responsibly. People can also exchange old electronics items for points, which can be used in a variety of participating outlets to obtain products and services. This successful reward program saw recycling rates soar as it provided a greater incentive for people to get involved.


This innovative organisation take items that cannot be recycled through the usual processes and turn them into useful products, their goal is to make waste obsolete. Back in 2012 they came up with the world’s first ever recycling program for used cigarette butts. Who would have ever thought that such a revolting waste product could be turned into something useful?

Well, TerraCycle collected cigarette butts in America and Spain and managed to successfully recycle them into plastic pellets, which were subsequently used in the production of plastic shipping pallets. Amazing!

Reverse Vending Machines

These recycling banks work on the same principle as the machine that deposits food for strays in Istanbul, only rather than dispensing animal food, they dispense money in exchange for empty plastic and metal containers. This sort of machine has proven to be incredibly popular for obvious reasons!

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