“If you want to be Czech, you have to dedicate 15 minutes a day to recycling.” Such are the wise words of an American expat who has lived in Prague with his Czech wife for over 10 years now.
Recycling in Prague and in the Czech Republic has become much more of a big deal over the years, with the nation ranking fifth in all of Europe for its electronic waste recycling efforts last year. And, best of all, it’s getting easier and easier to do. Currently, the city offers its inhabitants over 3,000 recycling containers (for glass, plastic, paper and beverage containers), 14 collecting yards, and 280 electronic stores that accept electronic waste.
According to Jaktridit.cz, the average Czech household discards more plastic and paper than any other form of waste. A simple method to make sure that recycling becomes an integral part of your daily routine is to use four separate metal or plastic trash bins (lined with trash bags) for sorting your recyclable waste: one for paper, one for plastic, one for glass, and of course one for beverage containers. By keeping these bins all in the same place in your home (ideally, close to your trash bin) you will be less tempted to throw any recyclable waste into the trash bin.
In a short time, your sorting will become natural and automatic. You can easily gather up a plastic trash bag of recyclable items when the bin gets full, and take it down to be emptied into the nearest recycling container in your neighborhood. Or make it a rule to take out at least one trash bag of recyclable items when you are taking out the regular trash.
Here are the names and colors you’ll find when you encounter that eco-friendly cluster of recycling bins hanging out down the street:
· Paper/Cardboard (papír) – blue bin
· Plastic (plasty) – yellow bin
· Glass (sklo) – green bin*
· Beverage Containers (nápojové kartony, tetrapak) – orange bin
*You can also return beer (and even some wine) bottles at many supermarkets and receive 3 CZK in cash or as a credit toward your next store purchase. Note: some areas have two bins for glass – green and white. This is for the seperation of colored & transparent glass – use the green for colored and the white bin for transparent glass, if encountered; otherwise, use the green bin for both types.
These days, you really can recycle almost anything, and with the whirlwind evolution of technology, your technological devices can become obsolete and oh so passé before you can even spit out “VCR” or “Palm Pilot.”
When you’re ready to get rid of dead camera batteries or an old television set, head over to the collection facility (Sběrný dvůr in Czech – for a list click here) assigned to the city district in which you are a resident. For this service to be free of charge, you will have to prove that you have a permanent address in that particular city district. Otherwise, you will have to pay for the facility to accept your items.
Acceptable items are as follows:
Furniture and household appliances, electrical waste, metal waste, wooden waste, garden waste, rubble (one cubic meter is free of charge), paper, glass, plastics, cartons and hazardous waste including old refrigerators, and even tires—but there is a charge of CZK 25 per tire. Check here for complete details on a particular collection facility in Prague.
But electrical waste (also called e-waste) is also picked up free of charge by the city’s trash collection service, Pražské služby, according to a regular monthly schedule in each city district. You can find the scheduled days and pick-up addresses on your city district’s website (www.praha4.cz, www.praha6.cz, etc).
Project Clean Prague (www.cistapraha.cz) has engaged most of Prague’s city districts in regularly scheduled and free pick-up services for e-waste (electrical waste), by the non-profit organization known as Elektrowin, which states that its purpose is to properly collect and sort e-waste and electronic equipment, and is the first such registered company in the Czech Republic.
Businesses interested in the proper disposal and recycling of hazardous waste and e-waste can contact Petr Balík (petr.balik AT psas.cz) of Pražské služby.
Composting is the latest trend (though not a new practice by any means) sweeping the city clean, and starting from May, the city will choose a group of owners of family homes or flats with gardens to each receive a new garden composter on loan. To apply for a composter system, go to www.ises.cz. For those who aren’t lucky enough to get a free composter for their garden waste, the city of Prague offers a free-of-charge pick-up service.
Organic waste includes not only waste from your garden, but other organic matter from your household, including:
· fallen fruit (with stems and branches)
· soil from the flowers without pots
· house plants
· skins of fruits and vegetables (potatoes, apple cores, etc.)
· citrus fruit peel
· dregs of coffee and tea (including the paper filter tea bags)
· cardboard and peat flower pots.
From hand-me-downs to donations at charities or second-hand shops to holding a yard sale, you’ve probably already been involved in “recycling” used clothes all your life. In Prague, all of these options are still available, including the upcoming Expats.cz International Market, to be held on June 18, 2011. You can participate in clothing swaps, or simply donate or sell your clothes through the classified ads on Expats.cz. The charity organization Domov Sue Ryder (www.sue-ryder.cz) always accepts donations of clothing and other items to its charity shops. You can also give your used items to second-hand stores like Prague Thrift Store (http://praguethriftstore.com/).
KNOW BEFORE YOU THROW
Before you throw anything away into the trash bin, it’s critical to take a moment and consider the value of that item. Ask yourself these questions: Can it be recycled in the city of Prague? Is it still in good enough condition to be useful to someone else? If so, can it be donated, can it be sold, can it be exchanged for something else? If you want to save the planet, remember that your trash just might be someone else’s treasure. Even if it appears in recycled form.
What are your experiences with recycling in Prague?