In late 2017, The Guardian reported that Wales was the second-best nation in the world for households that properly recycle waste, though the U.K. as a whole was doing very poorly in the rankings. Just below Germany, Wales had a 63.8 percent recycling rate for "municipal solid waste." That means things like plastic, or other every day items that you throw in the trash without thinking about it during the day.
Their success came from the support of the government, which has set strong target goals for reducing trash and recycling. A Welsh government spokesperson told reporters, "Our success has been achieved through a comprehensive package of measures. These include statutory targets, funding, principled, progressive leadership and a firm commitment from local authorities and the Welsh public to reducing, reusing and recycling."
They've also been directing money to the programs that promote recycling, and have just taken it a step farther. Business News Wales reports that the Minister has directed £7.5 million to improve recycling services through their Collaborative Change Programme.
The CCP gives local authorities money to improve recycling programs in their specific area when it comes to collection and sorting, in the way they think is best, since they're the ones who are working there on a daily basis. It has been very a pretty popular and successful system, and local leaders were thrilled by the news.
“Since the implementation of the Welsh Government funded Collaborative Change Programme, Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council has gone from a failing authority rated 22nd in Wales to 9th in Wales; achieved by recycling 62% of its municipal waste," said Councillor Kevin O’Neill.
“Changes that were made to the recycling collection services include us going from a co-mingled to a multi stream collection; reducing residual waste capacity and changing the infrastructure of the Council’s recycling depot. We would of course like to offer a sincere thank you to all residents in Merthyr Tydfil who recycle and who have helped to reach these recycling figures.”
Wales has set the goal for being a "zero waste" nation in 2050, and they're putting their money where their mouth is. But it's also a measure supported by regular citizens. In fact, Wales just opened its first "zero waste" store in Crickhowell in March. Called Natural Weigh, it offers food in bulk without plastic packaging.
Owners Robin and Chloe Masefield told The Brecon and Radnor Express that they're already receiving lots of interest.
“We were really busy with lots of local people turning out and local traders welcoming us. We are looking forward to meeting more people over the coming weeks. People are really interested to find out about zero waste and reducing their use of plastics," said Chloe.
Wales is showing the world what a country can accomplish when the will of the people is actually supported by the government.