Climate Action

97% of plastic bottles in Norway are recycled

Norway’s bottle deposit scheme has allowed for 97 per cent of all plastic bottles to be recycled.

  • 24 August 2018
  • Rachel Cooper

Norway’s bottle deposit scheme has allowed for 97 per cent of all plastic bottles to be recycled.

The Norwegian model proposes a loan scheme where the bottle you purchase does not belong to you. Instead, it can be exchanged at the several thousands of reverse vending machines, or over the counter at stores and gas stations in return for cash or store credit.

If the initial incentive is not sufficient, the Norwegian government has implemented an environmental tax on plastic producers which can be reduced the more they recycle.  

If collectively, over the nation, recycling is above 95 per cent then everyone is exempt from paying the tax. Over the last seven years producers have continued to reach this target.

To ensure that people meet the target, they attach a deposit onto the bottle of around 15 to 30 cents which will be redeemed when it is returned.

The scheme reduces the demand to make more plastic. A bottle can be recycled 12 times, the clear bottles are used to re-make bottles and the coloured ones can make new plastic materials.

The model has been welcomed by small shop owners as they receive a small fee for each bottle and it increases business. 

This could be adopted in the UK where only half of all plastic bottles are recycled. Coca Cola have recently introduced, Norwegian-inspired, reverse vending machines across UK attractions. However, it has been reported that the scheme could work across the nation. The UK Government is currently consulting on such a scheme in England.

Kjell Olav Maldum, Chief Executive of Infinitum who runs the Norway bottle scheme, told BBC News: “There are other recycling schemes, but we believe ours is the most cost-efficient.”

He then went onto suggest the model is scalable: “We think it could be copied in the UK – or anywhere.”