The world’s plastic problem is undeniable. Every day, more and more plastic bags, straws, and bottles wash up on to the shores and coastlines of even the most remote countries. To give an idea of the pace of this waste, the British newspaper The Guardian did an investigation in 2017 that found over 1 million plastic bottles are made around the globe every minute. Their conclusion was simple: plastic poses just as big as a problem as climate change itself.
150 000 000 flasker og bokser blir kastet årlig. Etthundredeogfemtimillioner flasker og bokser. Hva syns du om det, egentlig?
While replacing plastic with reusable containers or alternative materials continues to be a good option, it’s unlikely that the cheap, light, portable, and convenient format we know will disappear anytime soon. What to do in the meantime? An environmental startup in Norway has come up with a brilliant model that has had incredible results.
The company is called Infinitum, because they believe that given the proper system, plastic can be infinitely recycled and reused. Their model begins with getting people to return the plastic bottles they’ve used in the same spaces where they buy and consume them. As founder and engineer Kjell Olav Maldum said to The Guardian, “we want to get to the point where people realize they are buying the product but just borrowing the packaging.”
Customers can do this at “reverse vending machines” in shopping centers and public places where they drop off their plastic bottles and are given a receipt informing them of the value of their plastic. They can then get a “deposit” of about 10–25 cents back, just as many people still do in countries where glass bottles are used for soft drinks and beer.
Next, the plastic is taken to a factory with a “Willy Wonka-esque” tower of conveyor belts and sorting and crushing machines. Designed by Maldum, the factory runs 24 hours a day, taking old plastic bottles of various sizes, shapes, and colors, and turning them into clean, clear plastic ready to be recycled and used to make new bottles.
The concept has been wildly successful. Ninety-seven percent of plastic bottles in Norway are recycled, and only an incredibly small amount end up as trash in natural settings. As Maldum told The Guardian, he estimates that some of the bottles have been recycled over 50 times, which makes his company’s name sound much more realistic than you might first think.
Konkurransen er avsluttet!———————————————Gjett hvor mange #pantpenger Rolf Peder og Joachim fikk? Alle som svarer riktig er med i trekningen av kule premier!
One of the most impressive things about the scheme is that the Norwegian government and big businesses have gotten on board. “We think we have come up with the most efficient and environmentally friendly system anywhere in the world,” Maldum says.
Bor du på Grunerløkka eller i Groruddalen? Kanskje du skal henge litt på Majorstua eller Aker Brygge i helgen? Se opp…
The government has taxed the use of plastic but given exemptions for companies that recycle. Meanwhile, it made rules about the other things that go on bottles (such as labels and glues) to make sure they do not hinder the process. Big companies have realized how easy it is to get customers to do the collection work for them and how going along with the system can help them avoid taxes.
Observers from far and wide have come to see what Norway is doing up close. Scotland, India, and West Australia are just a few of the countries and regions looking to adopt the system at home. Maldum had a word of advice for visitors from the United Kingdom, in particular about the recycling plan: “please do it quickly because all the plastic bottles washing up on Norwegian beaches are not coming from us—they are coming from you and the rest of Europe!” A helpful reminder that we are all responsible for the world’s plastic.