Why the Covid-19 pandemic led to record levels of rubbish in Norway

Norwegians threw away more stuff than ever in 2020. Industry representatives say that the Covid-19 pandemic is part of the reason for the uptick in trash.

Why the Covid-19 pandemic led to record levels of rubbish in Norway
Waste has hit record levels in Norway. Photo by Possessed Photography on Unsplash

Norwegians threw out more than half a tonne of rubbish per person last year, according to figures from Waste Norway revealed to broadcaster NRK

The amount of waste that gets thrown away rose from 489 kilos per inhabitant to 531, a record amount, between 2019 and 2020, according to the waste recycling association. 

In total, people in Norway binned 2,418,000 tonnes of waste in 2020, an increase of 6.3 percent from the previous year, according to Statistics Norway

The pandemic was in part responsible for the rise in waste, according to an industry spokesperson.

“People were put into home offices, and their lifestyle changed. Many used their free time to clear their basements and attics. They were many visits to recycling stations,” Lars Pederson, communications manager for Waste South, told NRK.

People working from home and those who had a lockdown clear-out weren’t the only ones responsible for the rise. 

READ ALSO: How has Covid-19 affected birth rates in Norway?

Cabin owners are also said to have contributed to the record levels of waste. 

It is not uncommon for many people to have holiday cottages or cabins in the mountains or by the fjords in Norway

“It’s really quite crazy, and we are seeing the same trend this year,” general manager of Adger Waste Disposal, Anita Aanonsen Jernquist, told NRK. 

Aanonsen added that a lot of the increase in waste from cabins was due to people spending more time at their country retreats during the pandemic.

Vegårshei Municipality, a popular cabin area in the southeast of the country Norway, reported a similar trend.

The majority of waste coming from cabins is from renovations, according to Dag Terje Rundholt from Vegårshei’s refuse service. 

“In the cabin areas, we collect much more rubbish than before. There is furniture, insulation, paint, and everything,” he said. 

Despite the rise in waste, there is some good news. According to Pedersen, while more is being thrown away, people are also getting better at sorting their rubbish. 

“We have managed to increase our recycling percentage to 50 percent,” he said. 

Pedersen also predicted that the amount of waste would go down again after the pandemic. 

He also told NRK that he believes waste would drop more if people opt to buy quality items built to last, rather than cheaper options that break more easily and need replacing more often. 

He also said that a ban on disposable plastics such as cutlery and straws would also have the desired effect of driving down waste. 

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Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”