According to the global Economic Forum, hardly a tenth of all plastic packaging produced globally is recycled. However, behind this unflattering statistic is hidden the great disparity between each country’s recycling methods. For example Norway is one of the best countries in the world at recycling and comes close to perfection when recycling plastic bottles!
The Norwegian model
On the 26 January the Global Economic Forum published a video praising the Norway’s fantastic plastic recycling efforts. This country has managed to recycle 97% of all plastic bottles used in the country. This impressive statistic was revealed in The Guardian last summer.
The Norwegian government decided to tighten the country’s purse strings by putting in place a environmental tax for plastic producers but also individuals. A deposit system has also been launched, as was the case in France and other European countries several decades ago. Consumers can then exchange their bottles in thousand of ATMs across the country. This is also possible in some shops and service stations. The government promised the tax would disappear if the rate of collective plastic bottle recycling reached at least 95% – which was finally the case.
Although the ideal solution would be to stop producing plastic, collections and recycling methods should be used as much as possible. However some decisions can be quite radical as was the case in San Francisco in 2014. The city council decided to prevent selling plastic water bottles. However, this measure was questioned as only water bottles came under this ban.
Scientists are also looking for solutions to the world’s plastic crisis. In 2018 American chemists created a plastic that was able to be continuously recycled. The design industry are also looking at environmental plastic solutions. The transdisciplinary collaboration between the team of prof. Alexy and crafting plastics studio have developed an innovative bio-plastic called Nuatan. This biodegradable plastic can be used for functional and high-class design concepts and is manufactured from 100% renewable resources. In 2016, a promising study looked at Ideonella sakaiensis, a bacterium that is able to break down polyethylene terephthalate (PET), used extensively in the production of plastic bottles.