Communities Field Note

Recycling in the Czech Republic

 

Abstract: The Czech Republic has many recycling methods which I’ve noticed during my stay. The grocery store is one clear leader in sustainability in the Czech Republic. People recycle when it is convenient and easy. Creative recycling and shopping at secondhand stores are also a commonplace in Czech society.

Introduction: Walking down the street on trash day, you will find bins of many different colors. The Czech Republic is becoming a more sustainable country through its recycling efforts.

1. Are there ways or places to recycle in the local community, and if so, is it easy for people to access?

In most small towns and villages in the Czech Republic, there are recycling centers where people can bring their recycling. There are different colored bins for different types of waste. The yellow bins hold plastic, blue bins hold paper, green is for glass, and black is for non-recyclable trash. These methods vary, as some towns also have brown bins for biological waste and others separate glass with colored glass going in the green bins and clear glass in white bins. Brno does not have these brown bins.

2. What is the public sentiment about the state of the environment, and do young people think they play a role in protecting the environment? If so, how?

According to my Czech friends, many Czech people will recycle when it is convenient for them and they have easy access to recycling. People save their glass bottles to receive money back and sort their recycling when they can easily put it in a bin. Although recycling is important in the Czech Republic, it is strange that I never see any recycling bins around town. There are trashcans in the city center and on busy streets, but I never see recycling bins. Because of this, many plastic bottles get thrown away when they could be recycled. People often sort their trash at home because they can put their recycling into bins on nearby streets.

It seems that the role of sustainable waste management is changing in the Czech Republic. Younger people are making more of an effort to recycle and raise conversation about it. There is still a long way to go. Although tap water in the Czech Republic is drinkable, restaurants will not give out tap water. People often buy plastic water bottles and I rarely see people using reusable water bottles.

3. What innovative solutions do you observe, or hear people talking about?

Creative reuse and recycling is very popular in Brno. There are second-hand shops on every corner and many bins to donate used clothing.  Last month, I saw an exhibit in the mall made out of recycled bottles and paper that meant to raise awareness about recycling.

The importance of recycling is clear in the grocery stores as well. There are machines in the grocery stores where people can deposit glass bottles to get some money back. I have been saving my bottles for the past three months, and students in my residence hall are collecting them to donate money to charity.

Grocery stores also charge the equivalent of five cents for every grocery bag. Because of this, most people reuse their plastic bags or bring backpacks or other reusable bags to carry their groceries. In the grocery store, I have also seen containers for recycling batteries. Items also do not have heavy packaging. According to a pamphlet from the Czech Environmental Information Agency, the Czech Republic ranks sixth in the least amount of packaging waste out of other European Union countries (Kráglová).

4. Have there been changes to environmental laws lately, or have new systems of solid waste management been introduced in the past five years?

The Czech Republic’s Waste Management Plan for 2003-2013 mandates that companies take responsibility for the recycling and disposal of their products. This includes oils, electronics, toys, automobiles, batteries, and much more. This document is a plan to recycle and reuse as much waste as possible. The Czech Environmental Information Agency’s pamphlet about recycling in the Czech Republic shows that only 25% of waste is eliminated with 69% being reused (Kráglová).

Kráglová, Lucie . The Czech Republic. Czech Environmental Information Agency (CENIA). Recycling: The Environment of the Czech Republic. Studio Press s.r.o., 2008. Web.

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