How to throw garbage in Norway

  I believe that every old couple who have lived together for many years has a fresh memory of some small details when they fell in love when they were young, not to mention the family of two people from different cultures like me and my Norwegian husband. In the more than 20 years we have lived together, we have experienced many collisions and integrations in terms of culture, customs and social traditions. When I was writing this article about garbage, I still clearly remember the discussion about throwing garbage when we were shopping together for the first time in Beijing.
  While unpacking an ice-cream, he looked at the two bins in front of me and asked me which bin should I put the plastic wrap in my hand, which was a strange question for me at the time. So I replied, “Anything will do, same thing.” This was obviously a little strange to him, and he pointed to the plastic wrap and the stick in the ice cream and asked again: “Those two things are thrown in the Together?” When I answered in the affirmative, the somewhat contrite look on his face puzzled me for a long time until my first trip to Norway a few months later. On the first day there, the first thing he taught me was how to sort and throw out the different garbage.
  When I first saw Norway more than 20 years ago, the trash cans in public places are already classified trash cans with different colors and marked with clear classification instructions. At that time, each household had at least three different bins or bags for organic waste (wet waste, including kitchen waste and garden waste), plastic waste and other waste left after sorting (dry waste). Therefore, if it is ice cream, plastic wrapping paper and wooden sticks should belong to plastic waste and organic waste, both of which are not ordinary dry waste.
  Dry and wet garbage separation is the earliest garbage classification. As early as 1942, Norway has legislated that organic waste must be sorted out from other wastes, and it can be placed at a designated location for collection by a special person, or used to make feed, fertilizer, etc. The garbage classification regulations were not born to protect the environment, but because of the scarcity of wartime materials and the need to make full use of resources. Domestic garbage classification also started from this, so China has taken an important step in garbage disposal.
  It is worth mentioning that in Norway, special degradable garbage bags provided by the government for free are used to hold organic waste. There is a user guide printed on the bag, which states what garbage can and cannot be put in the bag, and also explains where this type of garbage should go.
  At the end of 2019, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development of China released a new version of the standard for “Classification of Domestic Waste”, which was implemented in Shanghai. Since then, the garbage problem has become a hot topic, and it is still hot. I read Shanghai’s classification standards for wet waste at the time. I remember two differences from Norway’s organic waste classification: paper towels are not included in wet waste, and the hard and relatively refractory large bones cannot be the same as other kitchen waste. Throw in wet trash. My friends in Shanghai told me that they do not have special organic garbage bags. The community where they live requires ordinary plastic bags to contain wet garbage, but when throwing it into a large public garbage bin, it is necessary to “broken the bag” and put the garbage into the wet garbage. bin, drop the bag into the dry bin. Therefore, the smell near the trash can is indescribable, especially in summer, which is why some people are disgusted with it. Norway’s practice shows that it may be necessary to introduce convenient and practical degradable wet garbage bags and further improve the classification and management of garbage.
  After the wet waste is separated out, the remaining dry waste also needs to be sorted further. Among them, the most important category is plastic products. Plastic products are the earliest and most easily reused type of waste, but their diversity, breadth and complexity make plastic waste the most harmful and widespread type of waste to the environment. The recycling of domestic plastic products is generally handled by households, and some people choose to sell them to waste recyclers. However, because of the troublesome and low return rate, most of the plastic products in domestic waste are treated as ordinary dry waste and other waste. Garbage mixed up and thrown away. Empty beverage bottles in street bins, as well as online videos of using empty beverage bottles to grow flowers, vegetables or make various handicrafts, all reflect the low recycling rate of plastic waste.
  Plastic waste in Norway can be roughly divided into two categories: deposit and no deposit.
  A typical deposit-recycling item is a beverage bottle, which is not limited to plastic products. The plastic bottles, glass bottles and metal cans used in the drinks sold in the Norwegian market all contain a deposit that needs to be paid in advance. For example, the deposit for a 1.5-liter plastic large beverage bottle is 3 NOK (about RMB 2), and a 0.5-liter The vial is NOK 2. If a large bottle of drink in the supermarket is priced at NOK 20, you need to pay NOK 23 at the time of payment, which includes a deposit of NOK 3 for the bottle. After returning the empty bottle, you can get the 3 NOK back. It is also quite convenient to return empty bottles. Almost all supermarkets have automatic empty bottle recycling machines. Recycling empty bottles is also part of the store’s business.
  The system is uniform across the country, and Norwegian empty bottles can be sent to any machine in any store for recycling. Put the empty bottle into the recycling machine, and the bottle will automatically scroll to find the barcode to identify the deposit amount. After putting in all the empty bottles, press the end key, the machine will display the total amount and print out a barcode receipt. Customers can use this receipt to scan the QR code to deduct the payment after shopping, or directly scan the QR code to withdraw cash at the cashier. Empty bottles that do not have a barcode or are unrecognizable because they are damaged are returned for no calculation of the amount, but customers can still leave them next to the machine and the store will recycle them as normal plastic, glass or metal waste. Therefore, throwing away the empty bottle or mishandling the ID code after drinking the drink means forgoing the prepaid deposit.
  Norway’s empty bottle deposit mechanism was introduced as early as 1902 at the beginning of the last century. At that time, there was no soft drink like it is now. The bottles with deposits are generally not plastic bottles, but some special medicine bottles, milk bottles or wine bottle. Due to the difficulty of production and limited quantity, manufacturers need to recycle empty bottles. Therefore, this kind of empty bottle recycling has gradually changed from the earliest practical needs to the current environmental protection needs. Since then, Norway has improved and revised the types and deposit amounts of empty bottles several times. The current standard has been implemented since the beginning of 2018: NOK 2 for small bottles and NOK 3 for large bottles. (The previous standard lasted almost 25 years: NOK 1 for a small bottle and NOK 2.5 for a large bottle.) Such an empty bottle can add up to a substantial sum. The recycling fee is not low and the recycling is convenient. If it is not particularly inconvenient to carry, people generally do not throw away the empty bottle. Later, the further increase of the deposit amount is also to improve the recycling rate and reduce the probability that recyclable resources are mixed with general garbage and discarded, or even discarded into the natural environment. Many European countries have such recycling mechanisms. For example, the recycling machines and bottle logos in Sweden and Norway are very similar, and because the languages ​​are similar, it is difficult to distinguish the beverage bottles of the two countries at first glance. However, the identification codes of the two countries are not uniform, and beverage bottles purchased in Sweden cannot be recognized by machines in Norway, and vice versa. Since the price of goods in Sweden is much cheaper than that in Norway, especially for beverages, and because the distance is not far, many Norwegians will go shopping in Swedish supermarkets, so each store will also collect Swedish empty bottles for shopping in Sweden next time. time and send it back.

Automatic empty bottle recycling machine. Customers can scan the QR code to deduct the payment after shopping with the machine-printed receipt, or scan the QR code to withdraw cash directly at the cashier.

This is an empty 1.5 liter beverage bottle, and the word “3 PANT” in the box to the left of the barcode indicates that the bottle has a deposit of NOK 3.

  In addition, empty bottles are often used for charitable donations. Many sports clubs have their own collection boxes for empty bottles, and there are also charity collection boxes in shopping malls specially designed for a certain organization or project, where members or customers put empty bottles into it as donation support. For example, in some stores, there will be advertisements of the Red Cross next to the empty bottle recycling machines, encouraging everyone to donate. When donating, they will also participate in a lottery and have a chance to win a million-dollar prize. A few years ago, when my son was in the fifth or sixth grade of elementary school, the class asked parents to organize some activities to raise funds in order to prepare a week-long study tour for the children. One of them is to hold a concentrated beverage bottle collection in various nearby communities during Christmas when everyone consumes the most beverages and beer. The parents divided the package and sent a text message to each family’s mailbox before Christmas, explaining the purpose of fundraising and expressing their hope to support by donating empty beverage bottles, and set a time to collect the beverage bottles. In the evening of the appointed day, all parents take their children from house to house to collect beverage bottles according to their own zoning. Each house has more or less bottles of drinks, and supporting the children’s activities in this way is a small gesture and an act of kindness. The event was a success, and I can’t remember the exact amount raised. It was in the thousands or even tens of thousands of NOK, far exceeding expectations. On the other hand, in the big winter, it’s actually a lot of hard work to go door-to-door and go to the store countless times to feed hundreds of bottles into the recycling machine for hours on end. But parents all feel that it is very meaningful to allow their children to participate in such activities in person, and feel the kindness of countless strangers in the hard work, which is also very meaningful in addition to the fundraising itself.
  Except for beverage bottles with a deposit, recycling other plastic waste has no direct benefits, but it is also a must. This type of plastic waste must be relatively clean, so heavily polluted and difficult-to-clean plastic products like plastic bags for meat are not separate plastic waste and should be put into dry bins. Plastic food containers – such as ketchup bottles – should be washed with basic cleaning before they are thrown into the plastic waste. Plastic garbage is packed in special transparent large plastic bags, the size is basically equivalent to the common black large garbage bags. The bag has air holes for breathability, which reduces the chance of mildew caused by residual sauce in plastic products. Like the garbage bags for organic garbage, this large plastic bag for plastic garbage is also distributed free of charge, once or twice a year, and placed directly in front of each house. Generally speaking, the bag is enough, but if it is not enough for various reasons, you can go to the relevant department to pick it up for free.
  When I first came to Norway, every outdoor house was equipped with two bins, one with a brown lid for organic waste and one with a black lid for dry waste. In addition, people generally put the bags of plastic waste in indoor garages, etc., and wait until the day when plastic waste is collected uniformly, and then turn them to a prominent place in front of the door. Due to the relatively small number of unified collection of plastic waste, there will generally be additional reminders before the collection day. In addition, each household has a small red box for storing flammable and leaky dangerous goods such as batteries or engine oil. Such garbage also has a specific unified collection day. If a day is missed or there is an additional need, people can self-deliver it to the junkyard.
  In recent years, the outdoor garbage bins distributed by the government have successively added glass and metal garbage bins with green lids and paper product garbage bins with blue lids and the largest volume. Therefore, each household currently has four outdoor standing garbage bins, plus plastic garbage bags and red hazardous and special garbage collection boxes. The size and color of litter boxes may vary in different boroughs.

Four outdoor rubbish bins and large plastic bags distributed by the government

  Every year, each family receives a “garbage calendar” to remind everyone of the dates when garbage trucks will collect all types of garbage. The calendar can be viewed or downloaded from the relevant website, and there is also an English version for foreigners who do not understand Norwegian. Each calendar has a description and schematic diagram of various garbage classification standards, and is marked with different colors. Light green represents the special garbage bag corresponding to plastic garbage, dark green represents the green-covered garbage can corresponding to glass and metal garbage, blue represents the blue-covered garbage can corresponding to the paper product garbage, and brown-red represents the brown-covered garbage can corresponding to the organic garbage. Grey represents the black lid bins corresponding to the remaining dry waste. The calendars also color-coded the dates for collection of different types of waste. Organic waste has the highest frequency of emptying, basically twice a month; followed by dry waste and paper waste, at least once a month; plastic waste and glass and metal waste are emptied less frequently, about once a month.
  Before the advent of dedicated paper bins and glass and metal bins, sorting of these types of waste was required but not mandatory. At gas stations and other places, there are generally large and concentrated sorting boxes, and each family can send things to such sorting boxes or directly to waste stations for free disposal.
  In addition to general domestic waste, there are some special wastes that need to be sorted and sent to the waste station. For example, when cleaning up the garden in spring and autumn, the garden waste generated by cutting down trees, pruning, etc. cannot be put into the organic waste bin, and the whole vehicle can be sent to the waste station for free disposal. However, not all rubbish can be accepted by the waste station for free, and some rubbish need to be paid for disposal, such as furniture, electrical appliances, etc. Larger electrical stores may set up free recycling stations for used electrical appliances. The more troublesome thing is furniture. Wooden furniture can be used as wood at worst, but leather sofas and other items can generally only be given to individuals for free or to find second-hand goods stores that are willing to accept them. Otherwise, they will need to spend money to discard them.
  In addition, there is a charge for the additional amount of dry bins in the home when they are full. Each household can go to the relevant government office to purchase prepaid garbage bags. When you need to dispose of a large amount of garbage, such as moving, you can usually only rent large container-type garbage bins that include shipping costs. Getting people to pay for over-disposal of non-recyclable waste is also a measure to drive waste reduction.
  In recent years, the government has promoted waste reduction and recycling and reuse of items through various means, such as publicity, guidance and sponsorship of household kitchen waste composting. Detailed information on waste sorting, reduction and reuse is generally available on the websites of the official waste disposal agencies of each administrative district. In addition to introducing the meaning and method of garbage sorting, the website will also introduce in detail the whereabouts of different types of garbage and the value of recycling, so that people can truly see its value and significance after spending time and effort on garbage sorting.
  Garbage sorting is the most effective way to reduce and reuse garbage. Having lived in Norway for more than 20 years, garbage sorting has become a habit in my life. My children have been taught how to sort and throw away their rubbish from an early age. If there is life, there is domestic garbage; if there is garbage, there should be garbage classification. When this matter becomes a living habit, it becomes a simple effort that doesn’t require much thought. When traveling abroad, whenever I see all kinds of garbage being mixed and discarded without sorting, and a lot of reusable resources are wasted, I feel very sad. Garbage classification is the trend of human progress. If people don’t pay attention to the disposal of domestic garbage, one day they will live their lives as garbage. Living away from garbage starts with sorting household garbage.
  Editor: Magona
kitchen waste bag
(Special degradable garbage bags provided free of charge by the government)

Items that can be put into this bag include:

  Meat and fish scraps Fruit and vegetables Tea bags and coffee filters Dairy products
  Flour and bakery products Egg shells and paper towels
Items that cannot be put into this bag include:

  Cat litter soil or planting soil ceramsite and vermiculite
Where to go for kitchen waste:

  Kitchen waste is used to produce compost, liquid fertilizer and biogas.
  The solid material in the organic waste will be composted for the production of different kinds of soil products; the liquid part will be made into liquid fertilizer for agricultural production in the region, and its rich phosphorus, nitrogen and other components are all plant growth Important nutrients needed; biogas produced from your home’s organic waste is powering garbage trucks in the area.