In Norway consumers can go to the supermarket and get the refund of the deposit they paid when they purchased plastic bottles and tin cans. The ‘Pant’ (Deposit) is paid back when empty bottles or tins are returned.
This innovative system, ‘a reverse wending machine’, makes Norway the leader in fighting plastic and tin waste. The system has long been a part of the Norwegian society, and is owned and run by the company Infinitum, which changed its name from Norsk Resirk in 2014.
When the wending machine has counted the number of bottles and cans the customer have returned, it prints out a voucher for getting money back, either cash or deducted from your bill at the till. Most supermarkets contain such machines, and in 2016, Infinitum collected 466 793 339 million cans and 545 397 194 million bottles labeled with the deposit symbol.
According to Infinitum, there are roughly 3 700 reverse vending machines in Norway, and there are 12,000 collection points throughout the country where you can return your empties.
1,900 bottles and 1,200 beverage cans are labeled with Infinitum’s deposit symbol.
The reverse vending machines accept almost 3 000 foreign beverage cans and bottles. You can therefore return these empties, but you do not receive a deposit back when you do.
In 2014, The Norwegian Environmental Agency approved a return rate of 95 per cent for bottles and cans in the Infinitum-system.
Some other countries around Europe operate container deposit legislation but it’s definitely the Scandinavian countries that lead the way. And in typical Scandinavian fashion, the system is straightforward and it works!
Norway’s Successful Plastic and Metal Recycling System – A World Model, written by Tor Kjolberg