Norway’s Radical Recycling Scheme is Bottled Hope

March 12, 2019

Norway undertook a new recycling programme several years ago that now sees the Nordic country salvaging up to 97% of its plastic bottles.

The programme – launched by non-profit organisation Infinitum in 2014 – is state-of-the-art and efficient. The initiative relies on a colour-coded and container system, ensuring trash is deposited correctly and according to material type.

What makes the system so effective is that Norwegians pay a minor “mortgage” on each bottled product they purchase, which means that essentially the container is on loan to the consumer.

In order to retrieve this amount they must deposit the used product in one of 3 700 “mortgage machines” located in supermarkets and convenience stores across the country. The machines read the barcode, register the bottle and print out a coupon for the “mortgage”.

The programme has been extended to plastic producers in Norway as they are subject to environmental tax. The more the companies recycle, the lower the tax they pay.

This Scandinavian model has become so effective that neighbouring Sweden has started importing trash to ensure its recycling plants’ doors stay open. Several other countries have now adopted the programme in multiple variations.