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Recycling ideas from the land of the midnight sun

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If you thought Norwegian ideas extended as far as A-HA and Fjords you are behind the times. Whilst those nations that hug the Baltic Sea and the bitterly cold Norwegian Sea have small populations with big ideas they also have virtually no litter or waste problems. These nations have, seemingly, cracked the nut that the rest of Europe has failed to crack so far.

Recently a delegation from the British Government has visited Norway to witness for themselves an industry led scheme that seen a staggering 97 percent reduction in the use of plastic bottles and a similar percentage uptake in recycling. In the United Kingdom the figures are about half of all plastic bottles are recycled.

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In Norway and other neighbouring countries they operate what is known as a deposit based system for recycling bottles. The Norwegian Government has also introduced a tax on every bottle that is not recycled. They then left it to business to work out the details of how to introduce schemes to collect, clean and recycle the bottles. What they came up with was this: The consumer pays a deposit of around 10-25 pence depending on bottle size. They drink the product and then bring the bottle back to a machine which reads the barcode and then issues the consumer with a coupon for the deposit.

Consumers need to be careful not to leave any liquid in the bottle, however, as if they do they don’t get a coupon and the shopkeeper will get it instead, after all, he has to clean the bottle.

Similar schemes to the Norwegian model exist in Germany and in some areas of Canada and the United States.

The system could easily be copied here in the United Kingdom. The managers of the Norway operation say it could easily be applied to the UK although some businesses fear it will place a further burden on businesses already burdened with a great deal of red tape. Scotland has committed to introducing a deposit scheme but has failed to indicate, thus far, just how they plan to do it.

In Norway only 3 percent of all the plastic bottles escape the deposit return scheme

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