Recycling in Prague – Blog 1

Guest Blogger - Clare

In June 2009 I studied abroad in Prague through my graduate program at N.C. State, where I focused on international non-profits in former communist countries. Here’s a quick geography/history lesson for some of you: Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic, a former Communist Bloc country that has been a democracy since 1989.

While abroad, I often found myself looking for recycling bins. Call it a touch of homesickness, since I’m always trying to find a bin here at home. I was also drinking lots of bottled water. Lucky for me, the Czech Republic has a very comprehensive recycling program. From what I could tell, the program is nationally run, which is great for a number of reasons. First, I could be in any little Czech hamlet or in Prague and I knew I could find a bin somewhere. Secondly, it’s all uniform which leaves little confusion. The bins, signage and materials collected are all identical no matter where you are in the country.

There are plenty of bins accessible to the public which is great for a city where most people walk or ride the metro/tram, and since Western tourists are starting to realize that there are countries east of Germany that are excellent places to visit (imagine that). The bins have signs that are only in Czech, but do have well-drawn pictures that show what goes in that particular bin. The bin for plastic containers also has a chart of the resin identification symbols that so many of us have a love/hate relationship with. The plastics listed included all except #3 (food wrap, etc.) and #7 (the miscellaneous group). It also helps non-Czech speaking visitors, like me, that many of the recyclable materials have Czech names that are similar to their American counterparts; for example, “Plasty” (plastic) and “Papir” (paper). Gable top containers and green and clear glass are the other materials accepted in public bins.

Tune in tomorrow for part two of the Prague Blog.

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