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  • Norway Recycles 97% of Plastic Bottles

Norway Recycles 97% of Plastic Bottles

Apr 20 2019 Read 1267 Times

Norway has set an impressive example for the rest of the world to follow with its comprehensive recycling programme. The latest figures show that it is now actively recycling 97% of all plastic bottles sold in the country, attracting international attention about how other nations can mimic its scheme to produce similarly impressive results in their homeland as well.

Recycling first came to the fore in Norway at the beginning of the 20th century, when glass bottles were the targeted medium. However, the rising popularity of plastic over the last 50 years has seen this ubiquitous but dangerous product take centre stage as public enemy number one when it comes to unnecessary waste - and the Scandinavian model is producing outstanding results.

Onus on company and customer

Norway has achieved this astonishing success through its governmental taxation system. In 2014, the government introduced a new tax for all companies manufacturing or importing plastic items, which equated to approximately 30p per bottle. However, if a company could demonstrate it was recycling the bottles, it would be subject to a smaller tax; the higher the rate of recycling, the smaller the tax. For companies who achieved a 95% recycling rate, the tax is waived altogether.

At the same time, customers are also subject to a small levy on all plastic bottles which, depending on their size, can vary from between 5% and 30% of the cost of the product. This small fee works like a deposit and is refunded upon return of the bottle, which can even be done without human interaction. All consumers need to do is take the bottle to one of the “mortgage machines” (a kind of reverse vending machine) which are found in stores and supermarkets all over the country and scan its barcode, before depositing it inside and receiving their money back.

An example to follow

Similar systems are already in place in other countries like Finland and Germany and several US states, but Norway claim theirs is the most efficient. The project is spearheaded by Infinitum, a non-profit co-operative between all plastic producers and importers which handled 591 million bottles in 2017 and, according to its CEO, is so effective that some bottles in circulation contain material that has been recycled 50 times over.

“We are the world’s most efficient system,” said a spokesman for the company. “As an environmental company you might think we should try to avoid plastic, but if you treat it effectively and recycle it, plastic is one of the best products to use: light, malleable, and it’s cheap.” Indeed, Norway’s incredible recycling rates are making the modern debate over whether glass or plastic are more damaging for the environment irrelevant; when handled with such expertise as Infinitum display, neither have to pose a huge problem for Mother Earth.

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