Recycling, The European Way

Article submitted by Keith Martin

For many years now people have been aware of the problem that we have when it comes to disposing of plastic. And sadly in this country we have buried our heads in the sand and left it to some one else to deal with.

Well the good news is that there is a solution, just across the water in Norway a company has been making and developing recycling machines since 1972 that company is TOMRA. They invented the REVERSE VENDING MACHINE.

What is a Reverse Vending Machine? Well it's a unit that is usually integrated into supermarkets, were shoppers bring their empty cans and bottles, they simply put the items into the machine and it decides what type of container it is e.g. metal, plastic, glass, colour and shape. When all the items have been scanned a voucher is issued which informs the shopper how much money is to be refunded or deducted from their food bill.
Tomra have recognised that children are very important when it comes to educating people about recycling and have designed some machines to attract use by children, which also helps with their pocket money.

The Norwegians have put a tax on drink containers and in return the bottles and cans have been given a value varying between 10p and 25p this is a great incentive to return all empties. Hence you do not see many littering the streets.

There quite obviously has to be a lot of involvement from government and supermarkets to make this work. So will we yet again ignore what the Europeans have to offer and bury our heads in all our waste!

For more detailed information about this, click here.

TOMRA Ecofacts

Used beverage containers consist of valuable materials like aluminium, plastic and glass. When these materials are recycled and used as raw materials for new products we save energy and CO2 emissions compared to producing new material from virgin feedstock.


  • Recycling of the used beverage containers TOMRA collects in ONE HOUR saves the same amount of CO2 emissions that would be created by driving a car 17 times around the world at the equator.
  • Recycling of the used aluminium cans TOMRA collects in ONE DAY saves the energy that corresponds to what it takes to supply 400 US households with electricity for a year.
  • The recycling of only two percent of the containers collected by TOMRA RVMs offsets the entire direct CO2 emissions created by the organisation worldwide.

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