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Kretsloppsparken. Recycling or amusement park?

How to make getting rid of what we don’t need a fun experience? In Gothenburg, Sweden, they have designed a reuse and recycle park to look as an amusement park.

Results: they attract 300 to 400 visitors a day, sell for a value of 1,1 million euros, create 25 green jobs whilst radically reducing the amount of waste that otherwise would have to be disposed of. This is a good piece of Zero Waste!

Kretsloppsarken (the name of this amusement park) is a perfect example of how to successfully move up the waste hierarchy; it educates people so that they can prevent waste from being generated (prevention), it reduces waste by giving a second life to the products (reuse) and it recycles what cannot be reused (recycle).

People can bring any item they don’t need to the Kretsloppsarken; furniture, clothes, household stuff, white goods, construction materials, old bycicles (from every three old bikes a new one will come out from the repairshop), wood, etc… all gets repaired, reused or recycled and put in the market again.

When they were designing the new recycling park the city council thought of creating instead an amusement park for recyclers and reusers. The Kretsloppsarken philosophy is that donating, buying second hand and sorting one’s waste should be easy and almost a pleasure.

How to make it a pleasure? By showing the facilities always tidy and clean, with white clean containers where to drop the recyclables.

How to make it entertaining? By using a dog to sort out 6 differet waste streams, by having clowns taking care of educating children into recycling and reuse, by organising concerts and organic happenings…

How to make it educative? By making available a “personal sorter” to guide the person through the sorting process and asking the right questions so that waste finds its best purpose…

Kretsloppsarken was built in one year time reusing 80% of an old building and it was inaugurated in May 2007 with a cost of 4 million euros. The initiative was of the city of Gothenburg but the reusing and recycling of the collected stuff is one by 5 private entrepreneurs.

The successful results in terms of economic turnout, green job creation and waste minimisation confirm this as the right approach.

Even visiting the bathroom can be a fun experience in Kretsloppsarken! Decorated with paintings and pictures for sale very often visitors come out of the toilette with a new acquisition to decorate their homes. There is no such a thing as a boring place in Kretsloppsarken.

The contribution of recycling-amusement parks to Zero Waste is paramount. They are not only cheaper, more effective and job-creating than incinerators or landfills, they are also a lot more beautiful and fun. The struggle for sustainability is less of a strain when it can be made fun!

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