10 Creative Recycling Ideas From Around The World

Recycling Graphic

Recycling is continually gaining momentum across the globe.

Hacking down rainforests and overuse of CFCs are not the only factors behind global warming. If waste is not repurposed, these products need to be manufactured again. The environmental cost of production and transport means that recycling is more vital now than ever before.

What you can recycle varies from place to place.

This brief article and handy infographic offers a glance at worldwide recycling rates.

In some more forward-thinking countries you can recycle a wide range of different materials…

• Cardboard
• Paper
• Glass
• Plastic
• Garden waste
• Food waste
• Aluminum
• Batteries

In many developing countries, there are often no meaningful procedures for recycling. Often, though, informal systems spring up. The innate resourcefulness of those people lacking in money can lead to some truly inspirational recycling schemes springing up.

We’ll look today at 10 creative recycling ideas from around the world.

1) Cameroon: Plastic Gold

You’ve heard of black diamonds but how about black gold?

Waste management in Cameroon is a serious issue.

In 2010, Constance Gubong Tangu kickstarted the New Era Foundation. The teacher-turned-craftswoman collects plastic and paper from business premises and garbage dumps.

The team then makes creative, plastic jewelry. This is sold on with the artists earning a worthwhile commission.

2) South Africa: Upcycling Furniture From Suitcases

Upcycling is a buzzword for refurbishing or improving aged items.

A South African designer, Katie Thompson, makes full use of garbage like old suitcases in order to produce furniture and fittings.

The outstanding finishes mean that these innovative products command premium price tags.

They say that one man’s meat is another man’s poison… In this case, one man’s suitcase is another man’s couch!

3) Australia: Using Printer Cartridges For Landscaping

eWood was developed by an Australian company called Close The Loop.

This ingenious innovation performs very much like hardwood but is composed of the plastic waste from printer cartridges. This is melted then reformed.

We have here a wonderful way to save trees without compromising on the integrity of landscaping projects.

4) Paraguay: Musical Instruments From Garbage

In Cateura, Paraguay, things are tough. Drugs and crime are rife in this extremely poor slum. The city itself is located above a colossal garbage dump.

Favio Chávez started a project making a violin from trash. This led to “The Recycled Orchestra”

Musical instruments are beyond the reach of most residents so this is a welcome and pioneering project to bring joy to their lives with the environment benefiting into the bargain.

Check out this preview of a documentary, Landfill Harmonic, which celebrates this awesome approach to recycling.

5) Thailand: Buddhist Temple From Beer Bottles

This Thai temple in the Sisaket province is a marvel of engineering.

Well over a million brown and green glass beer bottles were used to construct a striking and radical new temple.

The monks managed to create a fabulous new structure while helping combat local pollution: win-win!

6) Sweden: Jumbo Jet Becomes Hostel

A disused plane was abandoned at Sweden’s Arlanda airport. Oscar Diös, an entrepreneur, spotted a novel opening…

With precious little affordable land or accommodation available near the airport, he transformed the Boeing 747 into a $45 a night hostel with 25 rooms.

As with many of these schemes, several problems are addressed in one highly resourceful undertaking.

7) Brazil: Hanging Gardens From Soda Bottles

A joint project between a designer and TV producer resulted in a magnificent vertical garden thrown up from discarded plastic bottles.

This home makeover looks divine, is eco-friendly and now allows the family to grow their own organic produce. It’s truly a success on many levels.

8) France: Paper Tube Bridge

Shigeru Ban, a Japanese architect, managed to bridge southern France’s Gardon River with a twist…

The main component of the bridge is cardboard tubes!

Paper is stronger than it looks and the bridge is able to support the weight of twenty people.

9) Singapore: An Island From Waste

Pulau Semakau is the result of a government-backed recycling program that dealt with more than half of the waste in the region. The remainder was incinerated.

This new island took advantage of sealed cells that were crammed full of the torched leftovers.

With ongoing waste management in place, the island has mangroves and coral alongside hugely diverse marine and bird life.

10) Canada: From Diapers To Diesel

Disposable diapers are the height of convenience but an environmental headache. In America alone, 21 billion nappies fester in landfills each year.

AMEC, a company from Quebec, harnesses a procedure called pyrolysis to heat up these diapers in a controlled fashion for conversion to diesel fuel.

The closed environment means there are no emissions and 30,000 diapers lead to a whopping 11,000 tons of diesel.


These 10 creative recycling ideas from around the world show that imagination is truly limitless.

While you do not need to go to these extremes, the above ideas should inspire you to do whatever you can to recycle more.

Our planet deserves it!

My name is Dianne and I am passionate about all things related to gardening. I blog about indoor and outdoor planting as well as offering useful information about the best gardening products.