Recycling is a mystery

Norway has a system for recycling food waste, paper, glass, metal, plastic packaging, other plastic and everything else (“residual waste”). Sounds great, doesn’t it? The resulting system is so complex that: a) after two weeks, I still don’t know what goes in the green-topped bin vs. the blue-topped bin, and b) it appears that most of our neighbors separate food from everything else and skip most recycling.

Mystery #1–Colors. There isn’t a place, including the multi-page recycling pamphlet in English, that tells you what the color codes are. I’m stumped partly because in Portugal there was a system (yellow, green, blue, battery box, dumpster) that I had figured out. Every home in Norway has four bins: blue, green, brown, black. However, either blue or green is paper and I’m not sure what goes in the other. Brown is food waste that goes in very fragile compostable bags that are provided, and all else goes in the black bin.

Note the cider can. It has a PANT pf 1.5 NOK.

Mystery #2–PANT. You are charged a deposit on most plastic and metal beverage containers. Marked on the exterior of the container is PANT 1Kr up to 2.50 Kr.

Note the cider can in the photo. It has a PANT pf 1.5 NOK (Norwegian Kronor).

You are instructed to rinse these containers and bring them to the store. I had some trouble finding the machine because it was inside the store in the beverage section. Perfectly logical except that recycling in the US is general done on the margins of the store. The machine takes and read each container. At the end it issues you a credit slip that can be applied to your shopping or redeemed. Not difficult other than the accumulating and rinsing and remembering to take to the store part. (Joke for Americans: How do you get a pair of pants in Norway? Answer: Have two beers.)

Mystery #3– Plastic. Plastic is divided into two groups, plastic packaging and other plastic. Packaging goes in a plastic bag that is put out weekly with your bins–but not in them. Problem: here the wind is usually blowing hard enough that the idea of leaving out a bag full of lightweight plastic is, well, a very bad idea. Other plastic is supposed to be taken somewhere and dropped off to be recycled, but I haven’t been able to figure out where that is. I haven’t found a bin at home or near the store. Right now, it’s just piling up.

I stopped collecting plastic from along the high tide line because it falls into the category that I don’t know how to recycle, such as this boot, rubber gloves, jerry cans and other fishing debris that gets washed off boats.

Mystery #4–Those other things. Having established that bottles/cans, food, paper, and some plastic can be recycled, what do you do with glass, non-PANT metal, and “other” plastic. There are supposed to be places to drop off these materials, but so far, see my previous comment.




I haven’t given up, but I’m starting to think that my neighbors who separate wet from dry and call it a day may be on to something. If you know what goes in the green or blue bins, please let me know!


Published by winifredcreamer

I am a retired archaeologist and I like to travel, especially to places where you can walk along the shore or watch birds. My husband Jonathan and I travel for more than half the year every year, seeing all the places that we haven't gotten to yet.

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