Many countries proclaim their dedication to recycling and helping to ease the effects of climate change, yet it is the most developed countries in the world that are also its prime polluters. Countries seemingly obsessed with the latest and greatest of everything contribute with their constant pursuit of new items, requiring more and more raw materials be harvested for such items. Higher population and greater numbers of families also create a further and never-ending demand for production. It is perhaps their developing efforts to recycle and become more eco-friendly that stands as at least a partial defense of their pollution-causing habits.
In general, answering which country recycles the most is complex, to say the least. As countries measure different forms, types and standards of recycling, finding a comparable measure can be challenging. One of the strongest measures for such questions can be at least partially defined using EPI rankings. Created from a longitudinal study out of Yale University, this long-range study measured rates of environmentally conscious citizens and eco-friendly industries.
Grading 149 countries and using a scale of 0-100, with 0 being worst and 100 being best, they measured categories of: emission, sulfur output, efforts of the society in conservation, plus purity of water resources. Switzerland topped the overall ranking with 95.5, Sweden and Norway tied with 93.1, Finland took 3rd with 91.4, and the rankings continued on with Costa Rica-90.5, Austria-89.4, New Zealand-88.9, Latvia-88.8, Colombia-87.8 and France with 87.8. Out of the top 20, there were 14 European countries, with the US trailing behind at 39th with a rating of 81.0.
In measuring recycling rates, Switzerland topped the list at 52%, with Austria (49.7%,), Germany (48%), The Netherlands (46%), Norway (40%), and Sweden (34%) following suit. The US came in at 31.5%.
Many of the greenest countries are also top producers and consumers of technologies and other products, yet have managed to be at the forefront of environmental protection efforts. Known for progressive legislation and a push for household and industrial standards that are eco-friendly, these countries stand as a testament to the recycling movement as a whole. Though perhaps not number one in results, the U.S. did rank highest in its dedication to bringing to light environmentally-conscious pursuits. Thus, while European nations as a whole rank the highest in environmental success, the United State’s promising efforts to expand similar success in their country should certainly not be discounted.