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Science: Why is so little plastic actually recycled in Norway?

Science: Why is so little plastic actually recycled in Norway?

Recycling is quite a profitable sector but not when it is about plastic, say the researchers. While the new plastic is so cheap to produce, it can be difficult for recycled plastic to compete, ScienceNordic reported.

A group of researchers decided to figure out why most plastic that is recycled in the Nordic countries eventually finds its way into the trash  According to Kari Anne Lyng, a researcher at Østfold Research, the bottom line answer is simple – plastic’s recycling is just not profitable enough to use recycled products. For business, it is easier and cheaper to manufacture new plastic package, for example.

The researchers from Nordic countries have found out hat the biggest obstacle is that it is not profitable enough to make new products from used plastic. While the experts decided to look at the different parts of the value chain for plastic, they made another important discovery: the market for recycled plastic simply doesn’t work. People who have recycled plastic to sell and people who need different types of plastics have a hard time finding each other. This is because the market for reusable products is so fragmented.

“Plastic is a material that is very suitable for recycling, as long as it is good quality,”

says Ms Lyng, a researcher at Østfold Research and explains that there are also a lot of different types of plastic. When plastic is collected from households, everything is put in the same container. This plastic must be sorted, and some trash may find its way into the mix.

“My particular feeling is that it’s good that we make people recycle. But to get the maximum environmental benefits out of recycling, there must also be a market out there for what we want to recycle,”

Ms Lyng concluded.

So far, used plastic packaging from Norwegian consumers is now shipped to Germany. In Norway, people prefer not to waste the time on plastic recycling because it can’t be used for new products. Instead, it is burned and used to create energy.

Meanwhile, Grønt Punkt Norge, which has responsibility for plastics recycling in the country, says that roughly 80 per cent of all plastic collected in Norway is sorted in 5 to 7 different grades before it is recycled in Germany.