Recycling in Norway

April 14, 2012

residential recycling bins Norway

Recycling is pretty important to me and I’ve felt discouraged in the past by the places I’ve lived. Sometimes apartment buildings or complexes have had separate bins for paper but often people would just throw other rubbish into these. So even when we brought our boxes of paper waste down I was dubious as to whether it would just be tossed together with the regular waste.

sorting wasteNot the case in Norway. Waste disposal schemes vary by municipality here but I’m really encouraged by what we see in ours. At residential properties and on the streets are three separate bins for sorting paper, organic waste and everything else. We have three large rubbish bins on our property for this purpose. It’s easy to sort the rubbish into different smaller receptacles indoors and then carry it out. Our local council even provided rolls of ‘bio bags’ for the organic waste. How much easier can one ask for?

bio bags organic recycling

‘Bio bags’ for organic recycling

residential recycling bins Norway

Residential recycling bins in Stavanger, Norway. Brown is for organic, green for paper and black for everything else.

When it comes to plastic bottles, each one has value. These can be collected and taken to the local supermarket where there are machines for depositing them. Just place the bottle into the compartment and receive a ticket for the refund amount to use at the cashier. Glass, metal and hazardous waste are a bit more work to recycle as these have to be taken to the waste recycling centres. We did, however, notice receptacles for electrical and electronic equipment (EE waste) at one of the large electronics stores near our house – a bit more convenient for things like old phones, batteries and ink cartridges. The municipality even sends around little cardboard battery boxes for collecting these.

street recycling bins norway

Recycling while you’re out and about is easy in Norway.

Norway is certainly not unique in Europe for being conscientious about waste management, but I haven’t seen anywhere else so far that makes it so easy for people to sort their garbage on the street. This is just another area where the country is exceeding our expectations as a place to live.

Do people recycle where you live? How does the system work?


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31 Comments on "Recycling in Norway"

1 year 9 months ago

Anyone know what happens to the materials once they have been recycled?
I would like to see recycling of electronics made easier. Most people are unaware that light bulbs, batteries, etc. should be recycled.

3 years 4 months ago

I’m proud of Norway! If every country made it that simple to recycle, we really wouldn’t have any excuse for not doing it.

3 years 4 months ago

I’m proud too! Though I have heard from others that not all Norwegians are environmentally conscious and you can find a lot of litterbugs around. Stavanger is pretty clean so we haven’t experienced that personally though.

3 years 5 months ago

I really love seeing this, Germany was also so efficient about the recycling when I lived there. It really is essential to the planet and I am so pleased when I see people recycling.

3 years 5 months ago

Me too, Lisa! =)

3 years 5 months ago

Seems like Norway makes it pretty easy to be a good recycler. I love that they actually provide the right bags for your compost. As you can imagine, things here in Texas are pretty much at the other end of the spectrum: we have one main dumster in the alley behind the house for everything. I bought a few extra trashcans and inside our house we collect plastic and glass bottles that I bring to a store that has some recyclying dumpsters… Still much less than I think I should do, but a step in the right direction. I’m considering doing my own compost in the backyard.

3 years 5 months ago

I’m sure it depends on what state you live in when it comes to the US. Though none of the four I ever lived in had comprehensive recycling programs with every household participating.

3 years 5 months ago

inspiringtravellers April 15, 2012 at 6:25 pm
I was pretty surprised that there wasn’t more recycling in New Zealand, actually. And I don’t know how the UK gets away with it considering their small size and large population…”

Actually we recycle a lot in the UK! At least we do in Cambridgeshire. We have house collections for brown waste (old food, sawdust, grass, garden waste etc) blue bins (for paper, cardboard, glass bottles, tin cans, plastic containers and wrappers) and a green bin for everything else. But there are local recylcing centres everywhere where we recyle, vegitable oil, books, electronic goods, clothes, shoes (you name it). Disposable batteries are also easily recycled as most pharmacies (bizzarely enough) and the containers here are nearly always over flowing.

3 years 5 months ago

That’s great to hear, Kim! I have no idea about the UK as I’ve never been there…sounds like a very similar program to here. =)


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