Pay-as-you-throw isn’t just a U.S. phenomenon. Countries around the world–especially in Asia and Europe–also use the system to cut waste and boost recycling. A few recent news stories illustrate the trend.
A feature story in the Wall Street Journal calls the small island nation “an international poster child for recycling,” painting a picture of a waste management system that centers on blue pay-as-you-throw trash bags for non-recyclable waste. (The system also features two elements not seen in the U.S.: musical garbage trucks and black-haired pigs that eat some organic waste.)
With pay-as-you-throw, Taiwan has a nation-wide recycling rate of 55% (much higher than the 35% rate in the U.S.). Some cities have an even higher recycling rate–67% in Taipei and 63.5% in New Taipei.
In South Korea, a volume-based solid waste disposal system is helping bring the nation’s recycling rate to more than 80%, according to The Straits Times–with some households cutting their trash output by half. The article focuses especially on how pay-as-you-throw in Korea is helping to reduce food waste, with a 5% drop in tonnage of those materials nationwide since 2008.
As one woman says in the article, “I think it’s a good idea because people started to pay more attention to how much trash they throw”–proving that incentives work, whether it’s in the U.S. or anywhere else.