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Innovative plastic bottle recycling in Norway
By Jinny Throup
A deposit-based system for recycling plastic bottles in Norway is being studied for widespread adoption in other parts of Europe. The industry-led scheme recycles 97% of the country’s bottles and has massively reduced plastic litter on both land and sea. It works like this: You pay a deposit on every bottle that you purchase. The amount of the deposit ranges from about 10 to 25 centimos depending on the size of the bottle. When the bottle is empty you place it into a deposit-return machine which reads the barcode and gives you a coupon for the amount of your deposit.
Ecologists believe that this cost-efficient recycling program could easily be copied in other parts of Europe, where less than half of all plastic bottles get recycled. Similar schemes are already being tried in other Nordic countries and Germany, as well as in some US states and Canada. The method is very similar to the glass bottle deposit systems that used to function across Europe. As plastic bottles became increasingly common, most countries stopped the bottle deposit system, but in Norway it was transferred to plastic bottles.
What makes this more efficient and useful than the old bottle deposit system is the convenience of the return machines. Just put your empty bottles in, and you get repaid right away. Norway has also installed bottle bins next to trash containers. This makes it easy for less fortunate people to pick these up and bring them to the nearest return machine.