Plastic bottle recycling rates: Norway best in the world

According to, the recycling rate of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic bottles in Norway in 2018 was 97 percent, making it the best recycler in that arena and one of the most effective overall reprocessors of scrap in the world.

Following Norway were Japan, Sweden, India and the European Union which posted PET plastic bottle recycling rates of 84.8%, 84%, 80% and 58.2%, respectively.

The United Stated woefully lagged the rest at 28.9 percent.

Why has Norway been so successful?

The Land of the Midnight Sun has implemented an incredibly wise return policy among consumers. Hence, when someone purchases an item contained in a plastic bottle, they must pay a small fee in addition to the price of the product. However, consumers are refunded that surcharge once the bottles are returned.

Example: A consumer purchases a bottle of water at 7-Eleven with a retail price of $1.35 (tax included) but is charged $1.50. Upon the successful return of the bottle, they’d receive 15 cents.

Perhaps that doesn’t seem like much, but the average person probably uses at least three bottles daily when consuming food and drinks. Upon returning 30 days’ worth of used plastic bottles, a consumer, in the example given, would get a check for at least $13.50.

To facilitate the return, Norway has automated stations that you can return the bottles to for a return of the deposit.

Other countries, such as the United Kingdom, have taken note. In fact, and according to Statista, 86% of British citizens approve of supermarket deposit return schemes for plastic and glass bottles.

Can this scheme work in the United States?

Please share your thoughts below.