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Recycling and researching for environmental benefits

In 2014 we changed our name from Norsk Resirk (Norwegian Recycled) to Infinitum, inspired by the infinite number of times a bottle or can is able to be recycled in our deposit scheme. This means a lot to us, and to our environment.

Since 1999 we have led the way in depositing and recycling non-refillable plastic bottles and beverage cans in Norway. All bottles and cans with the characteristic Norwegian deposit-label can be deposited all over the country due to our national deposit scheme.

Infinitum is a non-profit organisation owned by Norwegian bottlers and retailers. We do not function in the name of an economic profit, but so that we can continue to increase the number of collected beverage containers our eco-friendly, cost-effective deposit scheme can handle.

We are strongly motivated to contribute to a better, healthier environment for the benefit of people and of the planet. With this in mind we have invested in new, highly effective and modern recycling facilities to ensure a clean environment and a better future.

The Norwegian recycling system is a statutory scheme imposing both a basic and environmental levy on beverage packaging regardless of its point of origin.

Recycling and research

In 2016 we commissioned a study project with the purpose of comparing the environmental impacts of a recycling deposit system versus the disposal of PET bottles with residual waste by incineration. Both systems were analysed using a waste treatment model represented by the two cases, and taking into account the avoided burdens from recycling and energy recovery (from incineration), respectively.

The primary objective was to assess and compare the potential environmental impact of beverage container production with different collection and treatment systems in Norway.

Three major systems for the collection and treatment of PET bottles were analysed:

  • Collection of PET bottles using Infinitum’s existing deposit system with Reverse Vending Machines in grocery stores. This system is modelled using actual, known collection rates;
  • Collection of PET bottles using Green Dot Norway’s kerbside system for plastic packaging (no deposit). This system is modelled using two different scenarios for collection rates; and
  • Collection of PET bottles together with residual waste to incineration.

This system was modelled as a hypothetical system wherein bottles and cans follow the residual waste stream and no recycling is done.

The major conclusion of the study showed that our recycling system clearly outperformed incineration for the assessed environmental impact categories:

  • Climate Change;
  • Cumulative Energy Demand (CED); and
  • Fossil Resource Depletion.
AREAS OF EXPERTISE
  • Deposit-based plastic waste reduction;
  • Data collection;
  • Energy calculation;
  • Reverse vending machine collection.
RESEARCH INTERESTS
  • Recycling versus incineration;
  • Lifecycle assessment;
  • Climate change;
  • Cumulative energy demand; and
  • Fossil resource depletion.
RECENT PUBLICATIONS

Profile in Government Europa Quarterly – Issue 25
Profile in SciTech Europa Quarterly – Issue 28

Partner eBooks

Fighting single-use plastics with an innovative bottle recycling scheme

Each year, 12.7 million tonnes of plastic end up in oceans around the world, largely comprising waste from single-use plastics. Single-use plastics can have a...

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