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

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 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.

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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