Neustadt an der Weinstrasse – The Small Town That’s Big on Recycling

Neustadt is a small medieval town in the German province of Rheinland-Pfalz. At first glance, the place seems to be the same as any other small town in Germany but there is more to Neustadt than meets the eye. The town is actually the best performer in rubbish recycling in Germany. The town’s authorities have taken recycling to a whole new level – there is even a special depot for depositing carcases of dead pets and farm animals.

The development and implementation of Neustadt’s rubbish recycling system took about thirty years. Indeed this is a long time, but the results have been well worth it. In figures – since implementing the system, the town recycles seventy percent of total waste generated. The town’s recycling rate is actually sixteen percent higher than the compulsory state target. To put things in perspective, currently the UK for example recycles only about forty percent of all waste generated in the country, in nineteen ninety the UK recycled about thirty five percent of waste. According to waste management specialists the five percent improvement which was achieved in the space of over twenty years is absolutely insufficient.

The exceptional recycling rate of Neustadt is not due to some miraculous occurrence but a simple resident incentive system which rewards local people’s recycling efforts. For example, locals are not charged any money for collection of recyclables from their properties. The less waste people leave outside for collection the less money they pay in annual rubbish removal taxes. Mind you there have been no landfills in operation in Germany since two thousand five – the non-recyclable waste coming from local businesses and households is incinerated. Definitely not the best solution but a much better option than using and creating new landfills.

As mentioned above, local authorities have implemented a straightforward incentive system which stimulates residents to make less rubbish altogether. Here are a few key aspects of Neustadt’s recycling scheme:

  • Neustadt an der WeinstrasseThe town hall has imposed a separate rubbish collection fee, which is totally independent of other taxes and fees paid by locals. Town management says a separate rubbish removal fee which is charged independently of other taxes is one of the strongest incentives for local residents to recycle as much as possible, and to make as little rubbish as possible.
  • Another example is the rubbish bin – rubbish removal scheme. Neustadt has about twenty eight thousand households. Most of them have opted for a sixty litre rubbish bin for non-recycled waste which is collected every fortnight. The rubbish removal fee for a sixty litre bin is six euro and sixty cents. If the household opts for a forty litre rubbish bin, the collection fee will drop to five euro and thirty cents. In case the household decides to go with a two hundred and forty litre rubbish bin (which is the volume of a standard UK wheelie bin) they are charged twenty four euro. In case they wish to have the large rubbish bin collected weekly the household pays forty eight euro.
  • In case households have generated more rubbish than projected (like after a party for instance) they can buy special sixty litre waste sacks for three euro each and leave them out the front for curbside collection.