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How Wales Became the Leader in Recycling

Wales has come a long way in creating a system that ensures minimal waste from its citizens. Through the years, they have deployed their resources and expertise in recycling most products that would otherwise be thrown out causing more harm to the environment.

This initiative has led them to become a world leader in environmental conservation, specifically with recycling. Compared to England, a much older and wealthier nation, Wales is doing way better in terms of recycling.

Considering that Wales only came to be less than 30 years ago, how exactly did they become the leader in recycling?

They Set a Recycling Target

Simply aspiring to be a world leader in recycling and achieving those goals are two different things. The Welsh government understood this and decided to set targets and meet them. They did this by setting up statutory recycling targets that saw the country increase their recycling over the years.

By setting up targets and sticking to them, the recycling numbers have risen from 5.2% in 1998-99 to 60.7% from households and from 4.8% to more than 60% for the municipal. This is one of the highest recycling rates in the world.

Providing the Resources Needed for Recycling

Setting recycling targets for Wales was a first step in getting to the top. The next step was to implement their ideas. The Welsh government did this by setting up a rigorous collection regime that would allow its citizens to recycle as much as possible and with minimal trouble. This way, a Welsh citizen knows what can you not put in a particular bin and what you can.

Since 2000, the government has provided more than £1 billion to help local authorities in recycling collection. This was followed by a collection blueprint designed by the welsh government that specifies the best methods of waste collection.

They Encouraged Recycling

The government understood that their citizens would require encouragement if they were to meet their set targets. Therefore, they set a national recycling campaign called Recycle for Wales. This was aimed at helping people recycle more at home. The government also set up websites such as My Recycling Wales to give information on where the recycling goes.

They Improved Waste Recycling Facilities

The waste recycling facilities in wales are designed to make waste collection and recycling easy and efficient. They set up recycling centres which would handle the recycling from households.

Many of these centres have more than 20 different waste streams. They also have shops on site whose work is to reduce the amount of waste being unnecessarily recycled. Instead, most items are reused, repaired and sold.

They Set up Electronic and Battery Recycling Service

Also known as e-waste, electronic waste is a huge problem in many modern countries. They struggle with finding efficient means of disposing and or recycling electronic waste.

Wales has put in place measures that allow this to happen thus reducing the overall waste generated from batteries and electronics.

They Increased Mattress Recycling

The Welsh government has continually improved the mattress recycling rate in Wales. This is thanks to projects such as the Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council mattress recycling scheme. It has machines that completely deconstruct mattresses that are no longer in use.

Considering the amount of mattresses people throw out every year, and the fact that they are not friendly to the environment, such a machine has pushed Wales into meeting its recycling targets by far.


While many nations, and people, see recycling as a possible solution to the plague of environmental destruction, it is not as easy as it seems. It tasking for most people and it requires resources and intentionality from governments.

This is exactly what Wales has done over the last few decades. By being intentional with their waste management, they have spurred their rise to become a world leader in recycling, something every nation should aspire to do.