Good things come in small packages, as the saying goes. Just one millimetre thick, each modern CD can store over 6,600 average length novels - which would take up about 100 metres of bookshelves!
  But where do CDs come from? And where do they go after we’re finished with them?

Many everyday products (from cars to books, refrigerators to hamburger packaging) can be tracked from start to finish through ‘life-cycle analysis’. This helps manufacturers improve the materials and processes they use to make goods more environmentally friendly, and lets consumers see where they fit into the picture.


Compact discs originated in the United States, where music lover and scientist James T. Russell invented the first in his home in 1965.

Tired of the wear and tear on his vinyl phonograph records, he devised his system to read massive amounts of information without the use of moving parts.

(per 1,000 people)  
highest 5 countries  
Lebanon 732
New Zealand 578
Brunei 576
Iceland 561
Italy 542
lowest 5 countries  
Somalia 0.1
Armenia 0.3
Bangladesh 0.5
Myanmar 0.6
Tanzania 0.8
Colour TVs  
(per 100 households)  
Belgium 99.6
USA 99.5
Ireland 99.3
Saudi Arabia 99.1
Canada 98.7
CD players  
(per 100 households)  
Denmark 89.3
Netherlands 89.0
Norway 88.2
New Zealand 86.4
Germany 85.4
(per 100 people)  
Switzerland 70.9
USA 65.9
Singapore 62.2
Sweden 62.1
Luxembourg 59.4

Mobile phones

(per 100 people)  
Luxembourg 106.1
Israel 95.5
Italy 93.9
Iceland 90.6
Sweden 88.9
Sources: youthXchange; BBC; USDA;
Recycling rates in selected OECD countries
Paper and cardboard  
Australia 47%
France 50%
Germany 70%
Italy 37%
Japan 59%
Portugal 46%
Spain 48%
Sweden 63%
Switzerland 63%
UK 41%
USA 42%
Aluminium cans  
Australia 63%
France 30%
Germany 78%
Italy 50%
Japan 83%
Portugal 27%
Spain 25%
Sweden 86%
Switzerland 91%
UK 42%
USA 53%
Glass packaging  
Australia 40%
France 55%
Germany 83%
Italy 40%
Japan 78%
Portugal 40%
Spain 31%
Sweden 86%
Switzerland 91%
UK 30%
USA 23%
Total municipal waste  
(kg per capita, per year)  
Australia 690
France 530
Germany 590
Italy 510
Japan 410
Portugal 440
Spain 650
Sweden 470
Switzerland 660
UK 580
USA 730
Sources: OECD; Pocket World in Figures, 2005 Edition, London: Profile Books Ltd, 2004
More than half of Greek 15-year-olds communicate electronically every day.

More than half of Israeli 15-year-olds drink soft drinks every day.

Nearly half of Ukrainian 15-year-olds watch 4+ hours of TV every day.

UK: $571 million worth of food ends up in landfills or incinerators each year (not to mention the additional $71 million in disposal costs).

Republic of Korea: More than $6 billion worth of food is wasted (more than the total amount of food available in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea).

USA: One quarter of all food produced domestically spoils, is tossed out or is left on the plate (43.5 billion kilos wasted each year - 1,381 kilos per second)

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