Norway Recycling Case Study

We have all heard about the amount of plastic that ends up in the sea, and when it gets into the sea- it can get into the food-chain and make its way into wildlife and humans.

A major source of this pollution is plastic bottles, 13 million of them are used in the UK every year and not all of it is recycled.

Our friends in Norway recycle 97% of plastic bottles, the recycling is at such a high standard that 92% of them are turned back into drinks bottles. Some estimates suggest that the same material can be reused up to 50 times.  The average rate of plastic bottle recycling elsewhere in Europe is closer to 60%. So we have a way to go!

How does the scheme work?

The Norwegian government places a tax on the firms that make plastic bottles, if they recycle more than 95% then they don’t have to pay the tax. Since 2011 nobody has had to pay the tax.

What’s in it for the consumers?

The consumer brings their empty bottles to the reverse vending machines and a donation of 10p to 25p per bottle. They can get this as a coupon or cash to spend on their groceries.

The company behind the scheme said that they wanted the public to realise they are “borrowing” the plastic packaging rather than buying it. Even in Norway, there is still room for improvement with an estimated 150,000,000 bottles not being returned.

More and more of us have started using refillable bottles every day, taking them to work, the office and the gym. But if you have to buy a plastic bottle when you are out and about – make sure you recycle it properly!

In Northern Ireland, there are reverse vending machines in some Iceland stores. So you can take your old plastic bottles along and recycle them before you shop and get 10p per bottle in the form of a coupon towards your shopping. Helping the planet and your purse!