Janine Falke processes cut hair into industrial fabrics. Credit: Anne Juka / fettfresshair

When it comes to recycling, Kiel has pulled ahead of the crowd, with its ban on single-use items, plans for leftover meals and innovative ideas for discarded human hair.

The hair that drops in clumps on the floors of some salons in Kiel, a port city in northern Germany, is swept up to be turned into fabrics that filter oil from water. Parents who want to buy their children cloth nappies instead of disposable ones can apply for grants of up to €200 from the local authorities. At the city’s biggest festival last year, the organisers got rid of single-use cutlery and replaced it with a deposit system.

Germany is famed as a world leader in recycling – and Kiel, as I found out during a visit this summer, has some of the most weird and workable plans in the country to deal with its trash. It is the first German city to be declared “zero waste” by the environmental campaign group Zero […]

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