Tuesday, November 14, 2017

France Implements Policy to Tackle Food Waste



Globally, among industrialized countries, food waste is a serious problem. Food waste is defined as any food substance, liquid or solid, cooked or uncooked, that is thrown away or discarded. The Food Waste Alliance (FWA) estimates that over 60 million tons of food waste in the US was generated in 2010. 40 million of that total ended up in landfills. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates 30-40% of the food supply is never consumed. 

Food waste is the single largest component going to landfills making it the third largest producer of methane gas. The food waste problem is not only an environmental problem but it’s also an economic problem. Wholesome, edible food that could be consumed by families suffering from food insecurity is going to landfills. Soil, water, and labor used to harvest, process and transport nutritious food is being re-directed from benefitting our society to creating environmental biohazards.

While the USDA and numerous consumer and environmental groups within the US have highlighted the problem in this country, France has chosen to implement policy through laws to handle food waste. In 2016, France banned supermarkets from throwing away unsold food. Stores over 4,305 square feet had until July 2016 to sign agreements with charities, or face fines of up to €75,000. 

While France’s law provides a means of assisting charities feeding the needy, the food waste problem is more nuanced than mandating supermarkets donate their unsold food items. Yard waste, animal biosolids, and food processing byproducts from animals and vegetables are also included in the food waste category. These byproducts are not easily reused and turned into edible food consumable to humans or animals. There are technological solutions currently available to turn non-consumable food waste into fertilizer products.

Both countries acknowledge there is a significant problem with food waste but France is the only one to implement policy to begin tackling the problem. One could argue that their prescriptive approach is limited and overly simplistic, but at least from a governmental approach, this is a good first step. 

When you visit the USDA site on Food Waste, they readily acknowledge the problem. They discuss the economic and environmental loss due to food waste and yet there is no legislative mandate to directly solve the problem. As part of its mission, USDA launched a food loss and waste reduction goal of 50% by 2030. In 2013, USDA and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) joined together to launch the U.S. Food Waste Challenge to bring together charitable organizations and work with them to assess and disseminate information about best practices to reduce, recover, and recycle food loss and waste.

While the USDA mission is laudable, it is voluntary and there is no specific public policy to work with food suppliers, supermarkets, restaurants or food banks to specifically redirect consumable food to those who need it most. Also, there’s no public policy addressing non-consumable food products, despite the technology, available in either country. France gets a C+ for beginning to tackle the food waste problem. They lack policy initiatives to deal with other components in the food production cycle. 

The US eeks out a passing grade of D because they have acknowledged there is a problem at the federal level. There’s considerable room for improvement if the USDA and EPA can enact some legislation and/or incentives which would encourage all key components in the food production cycle to participate in reduce, recover, and recycle food loss and waste prevention measures. 

France’s new law is a “feel good” approach that on its face seems like a no-brainer. Considering the political climate in this country it's doubtful that even a no-brainer approach like France’s would ever be able to become law in this country.


For more information on France’s progressive policies regarding food waste and France’s actions on using otherwise wasted food for good purposes:


france-vote-force-supermarkets-give-away-unsold-food-waste

By Bunnee Shelton for Green City Times. I'm an environmental enthusiast; Social Justice Advocate for the vulnerable – who are often People of Color, specifically Women of Color. @BunneeShelton (Twitter)



Monday, November 13, 2017

Environmental consciousness in Albuquerque


I’m not sure how most people become environmentally conscious but my evolution as an environmental enthusiast was forged from several factors. My introduction to environmental consciousness started shortly after moving to Albuquerque, NM in the mid-90’s.

Living in the High Desert with scarce rainfall tends to focus one’s attention on environmental issues very quickly. No appreciable rainfall occurred from December until June of the following year. 6 months of NO rain. Having lived most of my life on the East Coast, I had experienced many grey, wet days. 

Some years it seemed like wet, inclement weather occurred for weeks on end. New Mexico was a shock to the system. Florida may be called the Sunshine state but I doubt they experience as many days (approximately 300) of sunshine in the desert Southwest. Many a weekend on the East Coast is ruined when rainy weather appears. 

Just the opposite occurs in sunny New Mexico. I still remember how giddy everyone got after that first rainfall that signalled the start of monsoon season. Yes, there is a monsoon season. It’s nothing like what happens in parts of Asia but you have to live there and experience it to understand why it is an appropriate term.
Albuquerque averages just under 10” of rain annually and about 10” of snow annually.

The dearth of rainfall obviously comes with a host of issues. The number one issue involves the replenishment of local aquifers which supply drinking water for local inhabitants. I won’t get into the tortuous history of water skirmishes but let’s just say, it’s an issue that every New Mexican (whether you have long-standing roots to the area or are a newcomer) is constantly aware of both consciously and unconsciously. 

While Mother Nature is stingy with rainfall in New Mexico, she is very generous with solar and wind capacity. People there, starting with Indigenous folks, have always used passive solar to heat their homes and wind to pump water for both human and animal consumption. The landscape is dotted with many different applications of solar and wind power. 

One of the myths I was led to believe about living in the Southwest was that the dry air provided relief from allergies and respiratory illnesses. 

Starting in the late 19th century, tuberculosis patients were often sent to NM and AZ for “cures” to relieve them of their illness or symptoms. 

I suppose the dry, hot air once was thought to be a cure-all but as immigrants are prone to do in new lands, they brought non-native plants and trees which grow abundantly today. I had a five-month honeymoon from allergy symptoms until the growing season kicked in fully. Not only did my allergies resume but they came back with a vengeance. Eventually, my allergies got so bad that I developed asthma (allergy of the lungs) and a sensitivity to a number of environmental allergens (both natural and man-made). I could no longer use strong chemical cleaners with noxious odors. I developed rashes and hives to personal care products with lots of chemicals and perfumes. 

At one point, a doctor I visited informed me that my reactions were indications of an auto-immune disorder. I refused to accept the diagnosis and started experimenting with natural and organic personal care products. After some fits and starts, I found natural or organic personal care and household cleaning products that were non-irritating but also efficacious.


After my own personal odyssey into “green” products and the birth of my daughter in 2002, I became committed to living more environmentally conscious. In 2004, we began the process of building a custom home.

I studied water capture; use of gray water for natural irrigation; using sustainable products and non-VOC paints, thinners, flooring, etc. I even studied for a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. 

Eventually, in 2009, my sister and I started an environmentally conscious lifestyle company that focused on selling sustainable and recyclable products for the home. Due to the proliferation of green products being sold in more traditional stores, we shuttered the business and online store in late 2014. While my dream to expand our all eco products company to brick and mortar locations never came to fruition, I am still committed to living a sustainable lifestyle. 

Environmental issues (i.e. DAPL, Flint, MI water crisis, etc.) that affect disaffected and marginalized groups, in particular, are dearest to my heart. I will be writing on a myriad of environmental topics that I hope will offer a different perspective and creative solutions for change in an increasingly difficult political environment.


By Bunnee Shelton for Green City Times. I'm an environmental enthusiast; Social Justice Advocate for the vulnerable – who are often People of Color, specifically Women of Color. @BunneeShelton (Twitter)

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Advantages of Distributed Solar Power, Large-Scale Solar Photovoltaics, and Solar Thermal



As the generation of electricity via fossil fuels becomes less reliable and more expensive, many countries are exploring renewable energy options to guarantee their supply. Solar power generation in its various forms is a very attractive prospect, particularly in areas that enjoy long hours of sunshine. However, it can be difficult to decide which form is the most suitable. To that end, here are some of the benefits of Distributed Solar Power, Large-Scale Solar Photovoltaics, and Solar Thermal.

Distributed Solar Power

While photovoltaics and thermal describe the method of converting sunlight into other types of energy, distributed solar power refers to the location of that process; in this case, as close to the point of consumption as possible.
Its advantages are, firstly, that it avoids the energy loss traditionally experienced in the transmission and distribution of electricity, as these steps are no longer necessary. This also saves money. Any heat created during generation can be utilised to decrease wastage.
The decentralization of production allows for fluctuations in demand, especially where storage systems are in place. It provides individual households and business flexibility and independence from the main grid, potentially avoiding blackouts and other problems.
Although there is an initial cost, it pays for itself over time in the savings made from decreased reliance on a power company.

Large-Scale Solar Photovoltaics

Photovoltaics, or solar panels, are a common choice for solar power. This is due to their increasing efficiency and reducing installation cost – given the economy of scale, large-scale solar photovoltaics - also known as solar farms -  are approximately half the cost of residential solar. Innovations in technology, and large-scale production in countries such as China, means that it is more cost-effective than ever, with prices of the energy produced nearing that of the wholesale prices charged by fossil fuel power plants.
Solar farms produce jobs in a variety of areas, from maintenance to operations, and they can be placed on land that is unsuitable for most development. This land, which includes closed landfills, is often close to towns and cities, cutting down on transmission infrastructure and its cost.

Solar Thermal

Solar thermal can refer to a wide range of applications of heating, and even cooling. When just considering energy generation, the most efficient method is Concentrated Solar Power (CSP). CSP plants are smaller – they use less land and have a lower environmental impact and expense. The heat storage is also more efficient, storing more energy per unit of fluid, which allows for production of electricity outside of hours of direct sunlight, therefore creating a more reliable system that can generate power 24 hours a day.
Finally, solar thermal plants can re-purpose existing equipment already made in large-scale industry, such as turbines, which lowers the cost of installation.


Each form of solar power has its advantages, whether it is cost, flexibility, or efficiency. When selecting one, the best choice is the one that gains the desired outcome.

Large-Scale Nuclear Power vs. Modular Nuclear Power



Nuclear power is definitely one of the most controversial methods of producing energy and although it has great green credentials there are many reservations from the public as a whole. So what can be done to improve the image of an energy that could severely slow the rate at which greenhouse gasses are being produced?

Large scale nuclear reactors have historically been the most popular form of nuclear energy as it had been funded on a massive scale. Being able to produce enough energy to outweigh the more conventional forms of energy production has been the major stumbling block other than public image. In more recent years there has also been issues of holds ups in plans to big large scale nuclear plants that are difficult to fund and a failure to keep to timescales increases costs of undertaking such big plans.

Experts now believe that using much smaller, modular power plants is a viable option in replacement for the expensive large scale reactors. Modular reactors are already used on nuclear submarines and in countries such as India and Pakistan so the technology surrounding these plants is already at a very high standard but it is a recent idea that they might be considered economically viable.

Small power reactors are plants that produce less than 300 megawatts which compared with large scale reactors that are able to produce over 1.6 gigawatts. In order to make it worthwhile you have to build a lot more modular plants to produce the same amount of energy as a large scale one so why is this becoming the preferred method of nuclear power plant building? The answers are simple.

There have been many problems with nuclear power and most issues that have arisen have been assigned to the scale of the reactors. This indication implies that smaller reactors are safer and therefore could improve the overall image of nuclear power. While image isn’t everything in the world of energy suppliers it would make it much easier for nuclear power plants to get planning permission if there was less opposition.

Clearly image isn’t the only important factor with nuclear power plants. Modular power plants are much smaller than the pictures most of us think of when imagining a nuclear power plants. They can be completed much easier and faster and run a lot less risk of overrunning in terms of timescale. This is important as it reduces costs but also means the plant can be producing energy much sooner while they proceed onto the next plant.


It is possible to build these much smaller plants in a factory and should the demand for these types of power plants be high enough it would significantly reduce costs. Comparing modular power plants to larger scale plants indicates there is a clear decision to be made about the future and that is to transfer over to modular power plants.

A Close Look at San Diego’s HERO Program: A Step Towards Home Energy Renovation


The importance of green energy for use in homes and businesses is becoming more and more widespread, with individuals, families, and whole communities making the proactive effort to renovate their energy systems in order to pursue a more cost-efficient and energy-efficient method. San Diego is a west coast city that is leading the way in providing solar opportunities for homeowners. With the implementation of San Diego’s HERO (Home Energy Renovation Opportunity) program, homeowners throughout the San Diego and Southern California area are making changes in order to have the opportunity to rely on solar energy as their main energy source in the coming months and years.

Having said that, it might come as no surprise that solar energy systems are expensive to implement, thus potentially preventing homeowners from pursuing this more efficient clean energy system. It’s for this reason that many areas across the nation have introduced the concept of Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE. 

In San Diego, the PACE concept takes the form of the HERO program, or Home Energy Renovation Opportunity. HERO and similar programs have the potential to cover 100 percent of the cost of solar energy system implementation, from the solar panels and green windows, to artificial turf and water saving upgrades. This financial assistance makes access to clean energy and a renovated energy akin society that much more feasible.

This clean energy upgrade financing is a low-interest option that is repaid through property taxes. With a simple application process and options for even those with unfavorable credit scores, the HERO program provides homeowners dedicated to making the transition to clean energy with manageable rates and fees. 

Since 2011, a clean energy focused organization called Renovate America utilized this HERO program to fund $1.2 billion in home improvements on approximately 55,000 homes. Starting in Riverside, California, this program was implemented in order to allow homeowners to bring their clean energy desires to reality. In Riverside County alone, approximately 18,700 homes have utilized the program in order to make clean energy modifications to their homes. Since expanding to San Diego County two years ago, the same program has provided financial assistance across nearly 8,000 local projects. 




In San Diego county alone, the benefits of access to the HERO program through Renovate America is obvious when taking a closer look at the statistics involved. Thus far for San Diego county, this program has facilitated a substantial increase in jobs, provided millions of dollars in funding for sustainable options, conserved nearly 1,000 million kilowatts of energy, and saved more than 700 million gallons of water.


These benefits go hand in hand with what the HERO program is doing for homeowners as well. The amount saved on energy bills and reduction in their personal carbon footprint are other advantages to consider when making the decision to apply for this clean energy financing. 

Overall, though, when taking a look at the positive reception from homeowners and the effectiveness of the program, it is easy to see that individuals are ready and willing to take advantage of a program such as this in order to go above and beyond to make a change for the better. Moving in the right direction in regards to clean energy changes is made that much more possible with the help of the HERO program and others like it. 


More info. on the HREO program:


http://www.sandiegoapprovedhomepros.com/blog/4-things-need-know-hero-program


https://www.renovateamerica.com/financing/hero



Marine and Hydrokinetic Power



Hydrokinetic technologies have come to the forefront of renewable energy in recent years as the power of waves are a relatively untapped source. Water is a staggering 832 times denser than air and makes the potential power of hydrokinetic energy an opportunity that we cannot ignore for the future of our environment.

Hydrokinetic power uses the kinetic power of waves, tides and currents to create electricity. The development of technologies used in harnessing this power is still being worked on however pilot schemes are being put into place to further the development. It is difficult to get to a point where full use of the technologies is conceivable however with increasing funding going towards renewables the possibilities are growing daily with this relatively new technology.

The most simple and powerful way of harnessing marine hydrokinetic power is by using both near and off-shore waves. By extracting only 15% of the potential kinetic power from waves in the USA it would exceed the amount of electricity currently generated by hydroelectric dams. This is an immense possibility considering there amount of water that covers the entire planet.

Not only are the kinetic powers of waves harnessable but experts believe there is a lot of promise held in ocean tides. As the tides change they produce a phenomenon known as a tidal stream which is a powerful current. Not only is this current powerful enough to produce high amounts of energy but it is highly predictable which means it is easier to predict the surges in electricity and when support would be needed.

While the effects of hydrokinetic technologies on climate change are easy to define as there are no dangerous greenhouse emissions further research is necessary to see the wider implications of using this technology. Many renewable resources have been able to work in means of protecting the environment from harm. Before it is possible to give the green light to use new and untested technology there needs to be assurances that there wont be any kinds of danger to marine biodiversity.


It is also exceedingly expensive getting new renewable energies into use as there are so many complications along the line. Without the funding from governments and dedication from researchers and scientists there is no knowing how long it could take to get to a stage where we are able to use hydrokinetic technologies to harness electricity. Fortunately it is becoming a more pressing matter not only in the eyes of those working on the technology but also on a wider scale. The general public is becoming much more softened to the idea of using renewable energy and are much more conscious of the impact of electricity on the environment. Image can make or break a company and the time is certainly coming that there will be a shift in power towards renewables and a cleaner power sector which marine hydrokinetic energy is certainly a part of.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Trump is basically ignoring main sources of middle class employment in the energy sector



Coal provides middle-class Americans with less than 100,000 jobs. Wind/ solar/ renewable energy provides these same Americans with well over 500,000 jobs. So, of course, Trump, the Trump administration, and republicans in Congress will focus on increasing incentives for, and eliminating regulations for...the coal industry.

It is exactly this kind of backwards thinking that has government eliminating regulations around the fossil fuel industry's habit of polluting the environment, as well as dismantling laws forbidding the fossil fuel industry from developing in national parks and the arctic. This is a result of climate change denial, apathy concerning the environment, and the tremendous, ugly greed of Trump and his goons in the White House and republicans in Congress. But these governmental policies are also a reflection of the republican voter-at-large who put these people in government.

It is time for both our government and the people that vote these climate change denying, willfully ignorant people into government positions, to open their eyes, and see facts for what they are: facts. The future of employment in the energy sector is obviously renewable energy, not fossil fuels. This article in Mother Jones sums it up perfectly:

Wind [and solar] farms—and the new jobs that come with them—have swept across the Midwest, where coal and traditional manufacturing gigs have vanished. (Despite what President Donald Trump will tell you, coal jobs started to disappear back in the 1980s, when the steel industry began to sink and utilities stopped building new coal-fired power plants.)
In the "wind belt" between Texas and North Dakota, the price of wind energy is finally equal to and in some cases cheaper than that of fossil fuels. Thanks to investments in transmission lines, better computer controls, and more efficient turbines, the cost to US consumers fell two-thirds in just six years, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
Still, not all windy states have a turbine-friendly climate. In Wyoming, for example, coal-loving legislators passed a tax on wind energy in 2010 and are also considering penalizing utilities for including renewables in their portfolios.
The next few years will see a showdown between "rural Republicans who really want to get the economic boost [wind & solar, other renewables] offers to their district, versus Republican ideologues who don't like renewables because they like fossil fuels"—and whose campaign contributions depend on protecting them.
So farmers—and voters —will have to fight for wind [and other renewables] which, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency,  offer the greatest potential for growth in US renewable power generation. In his energy plan, Trump speaks of reviving the country's "hurting" coal industry and argues that sound energy policy begins with the recognition that we have vast untapped domestic energy reserves right here in America.
We do—and those reserves could lead to hundreds of thousands of jobs in the coming years, and very few carbon emissions. And if Trump weren't so fixated on the sputtering coal industry, he might actually see them. (Article by Maddie Oatman)

Maddie Oatman is a story editor at Mother Jones. Read more of her stories here, or catch her on MoJo's food politics podcast Bite.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Climate Goals: Is Oslo Leading the Way?



Norway is deadly serious in its bid to become the most climate-friendly country in Europe and has aggressively set about managing its emissions levels.

In January 2017 Oslo issued a temporary ban on all diesel cars entering the capital from 6am to 10pm, a move indicative of the increasing worldwide hostile attitudes towards diesel cars. While some applauded the ban others were highly critical, especially as only 10 years ago Norwegians were being actively encouraged and even incentivised to buy “environmentally friendly” diesel cars.

A permanent ban?

There is already a congestion charge for entering Oslo city during the daytime. But in 2015 the city council announced its intention to make Oslo city centre a completely car-free zone by 2019 - that’s only two years away and six years in advance of a country-wide ban. If it does happen it will be the first permanent car-free zone in Europe and the largest of its kind.

The ‘carrot’ in this scenario is the planned boost to public transport and addition of 40 miles of bicycle lanes. The ‘stick’ however is the idea of new tax levies on heavy vehicles registered before 2014 and increased tax on passenger cars, though at the moment there is no indication of whether electric or hybrid cars would be exempt. The city is nonetheless putting its money where its mouth is: it has reportedly begun to remove parking spaces in preparation and is divesting fossil fuels from its pension funds.

Tackling pollution from cars head-on

Looking at the wider picture, the Norwegian government plans to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030, and eventually only allow zero emission new cars to be registered. It already offers aggressive incentives for drivers to buy plug-in electric cars. In 2016 29% of new car sales in Norway were plug-in electric, and in January 2017 that number was 37.5%. Over the last few years Norway has been the only country in the world where all-electric vehicles have regularly topped the monthly rankings for new car sales.

The rest of Europe is watching

It’s easy to see the attractions of a car free zone. Apart from obvious improvements in air quality, newly emptied roads can be rededicated as sidewalks, cafes and public parks. After all a car is the most inefficient way to get around a city. Traffic in London today moves slower than the average cyclist and commuters in Los Angeles spend 90 hours per year in traffic.

Of course, the total car ban in Oslo has its critics. The council point out the proposed car-free zone is home to only about 1,000 residents but 90,000 workers. Commercial organizations, however, complain that area includes 11 of the city’s 57 shopping centers, so trade would be drastically affected. Not just from a possible drop in shopper numbers, but difficulties in getting deliveries if lorries have to meet stricter emissions levels. 

Other European capitals are watching Oslo closely. If successful, then the car-free zone could provide the blueprint for others to follow suit, making city centres a better place for everyone.

For more information, please see: fortune.com/2016/06/04/norway-banning-gas-cars-2025/

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Was the Clean Power Plan Just Wiped Out?


The Clean Power Plan was the subject of a Trump executive action, as you know by now. Without a doubt, this act by the current White House administration is a major attack on American’s clean air and water that we, in a first-world nation, have become accustomed to. The Trump administration is full of Climate Change deniers, who won’t even acknowledge that 2016 was the hottest year for the planet on record, and 9 of the last 10 years have also been the hottest years in history. 

In addition to the Clean Power Plan, the Trump administration and Republican House have been busy dismantling EPA environmental regulations that protect air and water from polluting industries. However, there are a few caveats to these actions that deserve a closer look.

That executive order regarding the Clean Power Plan can't take effect immediately anyway. The subjects of Trump’s executive actions regarding the Clean Power Plan and other regulations that protect the environment are mostly regulations that must be litigated before any repeal can take place. When, and if, they do take effect, polluters can freely pollute or, rather, they could, if the CPP and other environmental regulations were actually repealed. 

However, even the environmental regulations that are repealed, are going to produce lawsuits, so either way, there's litigation. In the case of polluters freely polluting, in addition to the litigation, there’s also pollution, the cost of cleaning up the pollution, and the cost to human and animal health and well-being.

Coal-based energy production is the #1 cause of greenhouse gas emissions, as well as causing deaths among coal miners. There have been 76,000 coal miner deaths due to black lung disease alone, since 1968. It would be difficult to state an advantage dirty coal has over clean energy because there isn’t one. 

Renewable energy is also much more cost effective than coal, in addition to being cleaner. Jobs are trending towards the renewable industry, and away from the fossil fuel industry. Renewables, such as solar and wind, are also getting cheaper than coal and has been getting cheaper for years. (https://cleantechnica.com/2013/09/19/nrdc-clean-energy-affordable-way-power-us/)

Fossil fuel jobs accounted for only 22% of jobs in the energy sector last year in the United States. In 2016, there were only between 70,000-80,000 jobs in the coal industry. There were over 500,000 jobs in solar last year in the US alone, and much more across the world. So, let's set aside pollution and climate change; where's the economic benefit of coal? And, we're only talking about solar - there's also wind, biomass, geothermal and hydroelectric. Now, let’s add back in the pollution from, and environmental hazard that is, coal. Where’s the benefit of coal???

Also see these articles for information about the Clean Power Plan, environmental regulations that are on the chopping block and the fight to protect the environment:

New York Times- http://nyti.ms/2nk3MF7


Monday, February 6, 2017

Recycling: How Are We Doing As A Global Community?


 Individuals and governments the world over are beginning to understand that if we don’t act now, as a global community, the environment is in grave peril. One major step many communities of the world have taken is educating about and enforcing recycling standards. As a result of increased wealth and population, extreme consumerism, and lifestyle changes, have led to increased waste. Recycling reduces toxins released into the atmosphere from landfills and reduces the pollution generated in manufacturing more (fully recyclable) packaging of products.

Which countries recycle the most?


        The top six countries for recycling are Germany, South Korea, Slovenia, Austria, Belgium and Switzerland. Germany gained number one status (although technically, it is virtually tied with Austria) by implementing what is called the green dot initiative. (We give Germany the edge in global ranking for recycling, due to the fact that Germany came up with the Green Dot system). In order to get a green dot on the package, manufacturers have to pay a fee based on the size of the packaging, which is used for recycling. Manufacturers have thereby been encouraged to reduce the volume of packaging, and to make packaging more easily recyclable. This encourages companies to produce more minimalistic and innovative packaging. They also came up with an intricate system of domestic and commercial sorting to make sure every material is able to be recycled properly.  The Green Dot system started in Germany in 1991, and now has spread to 26 countries on the European continent.
Who Recycles the Worst?
        The worst countries worldwide for recycling are Turkey and Chile. Turkey recycles a mere 1% of its total waste. The government places little to no importance on the recycling issue. Chile is known for having bad infrastructure for waste management, and so a lot of illegal dumping occurs.
How Can We Improve Recycling Rates?



        In order to improve recycling rates, it is important to make recycling receptacles ubiquitously available. This means both installing public receptacles, and providing recycling services free of charge to residential areas. Most people will choose to recycle when it presents no apparent added effort.
        When people have to think too hard about which item goes in which bin, they tend to give up and either throw it in a random bin, or just throw it in the trash. Unless zero-sort recycling infrastructure is already in place, incorrectly recycled items create increased cost in the recycling process. In fact, zero-sort facilities are a great way to avoid the apparent added effort of having to think. Most people know that, in general, glass, paper, and plastic are recyclable, and everything else is landfill material. With zero-sort receptacles, there is no added thought required.
            Creating a penalty for not recycling is also a tool that can be implemented for increased community recycling. It actually costs you to not recycle, and throw out your trash is a special plastic bag, in Switzerland. In Denmark, trash disposal is closely monitored and regulated in order to ensure the maximal recycling is done correctly.Germany issues each household 5 different colors/ categories of recycling bins. Cities where you can be fined if you don't recycle, include Burlington, VT, Dayton, OH, San Francisco, CA and Cardiff, Wales.
            Most importantly, city officials need to evaluate the needs of their city. If it is particularly windy, they may need to provide covered bins for residence; if there is constant illegal dumping, they may need to provide more accessible recycling and trash centers. The needs of each community vary so widely that it is impossible to prescribe one generic solution. The important take away is that we all need to be doing something as a global community, to increase environmental welfare.