Norway recycles more than 97% of its plastic bottles


October 23, 2021

Norway has often had the reputation of being advanced in terms of ecology and the environment, a belief that the country has repeatedly proven to be true. In recent years, the country has set out on improving waste sorting and recycling. The result? 97% of its plastic bottles are now recycled. Politicians, inhabitants and industrial factories have all contributed to this figure.

Is Norway setting an environmental example for us all?

The world is currently facing a global plastic crisis. Figures are frightening: only 14% of all plastic packaging produced is recycled and 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in our oceans every year.

Looking at these figures, it’s clear that plastic is a real scourge on our planet and is damaging our fragile ecosystems. Although there are some that have decided to remain neutral in the face of this threat, Norway is among those dedicated to finding sustainable and effective solutions to this global plastic crisis. One such solution that they have perfected in recent years is the recycling of almost all of its plastic bottles. Norway recycles a healthy 97% of its plastic bottles (in comparison, the UK recycles only 59% and France 60% of its plastic bottles despite being the world’s leading producer of bottled water).

How has Norway done it?

Norway introduced a progressive tax for all manufacturers of plastic bottles in 2014. If the manufacturers recycle the bottles, the rate is either reduced or eliminated. For the tax to be abolished completely, 95% of the bottles produced must be recycled.

As for Norway’s inhabitants, when they buy a bottle, they also pay a deposit. They can recover this money by returning the empty bottle. The bottles can then be sorted and recycled up to 50 times. Although the scheme currently depends on using money as an incentive to recycle plastic, government is hoping that this scheme will have Norwegians reevaluate their own plastic use and push them to think of other ways that they can help the environment on an individual level. Either way, the scheme is working. Only 1% of Norway’s plastic bottles now end up in the environment.

According to Infinitum, the organisation which runs Norway’s deposit return scheme for plastic bottles, Norway recycled 591 million plastic bottles in 2017. “We believe we have developed the most efficient and environmentally friendly system in the world,” the organisation’s CEO, Kjell Olav Maldum, told The Guardian.

Now it is up to other governments to follow Norway’s lead in tackling plastic waste by adopting similar effective strategies.