Norway Leading Plastic Waste Solution

Recycling and waste disposal continues to be a widespread problem, but all hope is not lost. Environmental awareness has been increasing, and with it, countries around the globe have been coming up with innovative ways to manage valuable resources and cut back on waste. And indeed these countries have proven that there are always new solutions around the corner. Sometimes we just have to know where and how to look for them. 

Northern Ireland, for example, began making extensive use of plastic carrier bags starting in 2013. Not only that, but their overall recycling efficiency has gone up in recent years, having just reached its all-time high of 51.5% of household waste being recycled. Many other countries have made progress of their own as well. Denmark too has been making significant progress in the amount of waste they recycle; they have made it their goal to reach a quota of at least 50% household waste being recycled by the end of 2020. 

Sweden, meanwhile, has been doing fantastic. So much so, in fact, that they have needed to import waste from other countries just to keep their recycling plants busy and productive. They also hold the distinction of having less than 1% of their household waste end up in a landfill, a feat they have maintained since 2011. 

Special acknowledgment must be given to Norway, who have mastered the process of recycling plastic waste. They have done so with the help of an organization known as Infinitum. Since 1999, Infinitum has been dedicated to the efficient depositing of plastic bottles and beverage cans, which is made possible through Norway’s national deposit scheme. Thanks to this process, Norway has been able to recycle 97% of all its plastic bottles. 

Norway recycles 97% of their plastic.

So why haven’t more countries done as well as Norway in that regard? One of the biggest problems is cost efficiency. Recycling old plastic tends to be more expensive than simply creating new plastic, hence it’s a contributing factor to why there’s so much excess plastic waste to begin with. It’s unfortunate, but understandable all the same. 

Norway, thankfully, has taken this into consideration. Their solution to the money problem is with money itself. Norway operates on a loan scheme, where a consumer buys a plastic bottle and is charged a small additional fee. This fee, however, can be redeemed. The consumer can either take the bottle to a machine which scans the barcode and returns the money, or else there’s gas stations and other shops which offer cash or store credit. 

Even with such high recycling efficiency, there is always room for improvement. Even with over 95% of all the country’s bottles being recycled, as high of a statistic as that is, it still leaves an estimation of 150,000 bottles that will not be returned this year. 

Still, Norway and Infinitum must be commended for the vast progress they have made already. It’s little wonder that other countries have reached out to Infinitum, hoping to adopt similar recycling plans for themselves. 

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The Olympic 2020 Medals will be Designed from Recycled Gadgets

Japan will host the Olympics and Paralympic Games in 2020. To make this event more memorable, Japan has promised to use the most innovative ideas for organizing these games. The games in Japan will start on July 24th, 2020, and the Olympic Committee at Tokyo has revealed the medals for the winners will be created from precious recycled metals extracted from various recycled electronic items.

The young Japanese environmentalists originally proposed the idea of stripping out the smaller quantities of platinum, silver, gold, and nickel from rejected and old devices in the year 2016. Those students were interested in raising awareness about the vast amount of electronic waste created by the tech-loving residents in the country who keep on replacing their electronic gadgets time and again. Stats reveal that Japanese citizens create almost 650,000 tons of waste from small home appliances and electronic gadgets per year, out of which only 100,000 tons are sent to the recycling plants.

A girl donating a cell phone to be recycled for the 2020 Olympics medals.

The Olympic committee took the initiative to save the environment as well as to raise awareness on this issue. They launched their new program “Everyone’s Medal” in February 2017 to encourage Japanese residents to deposit all the unused electronics at 2400 stores of NTT Docomo, a mobile phone operator company in Japan. Several other locations by the Environmental Sanitation Center had been created, to ease the process for the local citizens.

Each electronic item contains minute traces of precious metals; hence, the organizers need millions of devices to extract the required 8 tons of material that is needed for crafting 5000 Olympic and Paralympic medals. However, the great news is that from the launch date of this program, the Japanese residents have donated vast amounts of electronic gadgets. The estimates reveal 78,895 tons deposition with only 6.21 million smartphones. The donations allowed the committee to extract 4850 pounds of bronze, 7716 pounds of silver, and 70 pounds of gold; this quantity is enough to prepare 5000 medals.

Smelting and refining their parts until they turn to usable metals.

The committee revealed that each one of these medals will have a diameter of 85 mm. Each medal will have five interlocking rings symbolizing Olympic, the official name of these games, and the symbol of the Greek goddess of Victory with a background view of the Panathenaic stadium.

All these gold medals will be prepared by using pure silver material with the gold plating of around 6 grams. As per the regulation, the silver content in the silver medals is required to be at least 92.5%; however, the great news is that this recycling effort promised to craft silver medals containing 100% pure silver material. Furthermore, the bronze medal will have red brass alloy, including 5% zinc and 95% copper. The case to keep these medals will be designed using Japanese ash wood.