Student’s Corner

With some recent figures in the past years, Romania has been getting a bad reputation for 99% of their waste going to the landfill while Germany recycles 65% of their waste. A common stigma is to endorse those who have high recycling efforts and condemn those with low recycling efforts but the most thing we should do, at least in my opinion, is to explore why exactly aren’t people recycling?

I think we can mostly agree that (democratic) countries act upon their best self-interest. This doesn’t necessarily imply that the countries are bad, selfish or greedy, but rather, it simply means that it does what it thinks will be best for its citizens and inadvertently, itself. At the very bare minimum, we can conclude that recycling is not in Romania’s best interest. There are many valid theories we can use to explain why Romania’s recycling rates are so low but the one theory we can cross off is that “Romania just hates the Earth”.

It may be true that Romania doesn’t prioritize the earth first, but can we make the argument that Germany does? It may even be that Romanians love the earth more than Germans. The only thing we can analytically say about Romania and Germany is that Germany is willing to delegate some of its resources to recycling while Romania doesn’t.

When we look at some basic figures (note, these do not account for standard of living within the country), Romania’s GDP is 189.64 billion US dollars in 2013 while Germany’s GDP is 3634.82 billion US dollars in 2013. From GDP alone, Germany is 19 times richer than Romania. One conclusion to consider is that Romania doesn’t even have the resources to recycle even if it wanted to.

Greece and Croatia also have very low recycling rates (18% and 15% respectively) while Belgium and Austria have very high recycling rates (57% and 62% respectively). A quick GDP search yields a general similar correlation as Romania and Germany. (Notice, Greece has a high GDP but you’ve probably heard not so nice prospects about the Greek economy.)


Written by Linda Shackles, Class of 2017


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