Blue bags, green bags, glass… where do all the different things go? For someone who is new to the whole recycling thing it might seem overwhelming at first. But don’t be discouraged – Norway has one of the most efficient recycling processes in the world and once you get a good system in place it’s easy.

Not only does recycling correctly have a huge impact on our CO2 emissions, it’s even imposed by law in some areas of the country. Not recycling or doing it incorrectly can end up being an expensive habit, with fines starting at 1000 NOK. 

To help you get started we created a simple guide to recycling.


Getting sorted

OK, so here you need a few boxes. Ideally, you will need

A big one for paper

A medium sized one for general waste

A medium sized one for plastic

A medium sized one for returnable plastic boxes and bottles

A medium sized one for glass and metal

When shopping for boxes, you can’t go wrong with IKEA. They’re affordable and have a size for every need. Insider tip: for the returnable bottles and glass buy a laundry basket – it’s brilliant! Cute enough to be a part of your kitchen interior but big enough so you don’t have to empty it all the time. It even has a divider in the middle so you can separate the two. There are many other DIY solutions –  for inspiration check out this Pinterest board


What goes where?

Now that you’re good to go with your storage system, we need to get you on board with what goes where. We promise you, after one week of practice you’ll be doing it in your sleep.

Make sure plastic and glass items are fairly clean. We say fairly, because you want to do this on a long-term basis. If you end up spending half the time it took you to cook the chicken to clean the packaging, you’ll be back to your old one bag ways in a week. If it’s too much of a hassle to get it fairly clean, throw it in the general waste. Think of it as cheat days for diets – makes you go the whole mile, right?


Green, white and blue

Each bin each should have its own specific bag. Anything that can be turned into compost should go in a green bag. All plastic packaging should go in a blue bag (green and blue bags are available free at supermarkets). General waste can go in any bag and paper should be collected in a paper bag. In the cities you’ll find an assortment of recycling bins nearby where everything can be disposed of. For metal and glass you need to go to specific centers.


Now for the fun part

We know recycling isn’t the most glamorous part of your day, which is why you should log onto Instagram and follow @kildesorteringioslo. They regularly update their page with useful information and handy tips that are easy to remember. A few fun facts we learned are flowers are not food waste (but teabags are) and used take-away cups can’t actually be recycled as paper because the quality is generally not high enough. Hit that follow button and you will be a recycling master in no time!


If you’re still feeling unsure…

We chatted to a couple of experts and shared their top recycling tips.


Sylvelin Aadland from

1) What is your number 1 tip when it comes to sorting your recyling?

Have a good system in place ­– when everything has a dedicated space it’s easy to sort.

2) What do people struggle with the most?

Many people are unsure how clean the packaging should be. It doesn’t need to be spotless, but it shouldn’t contain any product residue (many items are ready without the need for rinsing). A quick rinse in cold water or a quick swipe with a brush is enough.


3) What storage advice would you give to people who live in small apartments?

Be creative. Store the most common items under the kitchen counter – food waste, plastic packaging, cardboard and paper, glass and metal packaging and residual waste. In small apartments with little room under the counter you can create a system that stacks in height. Take a bag with you when you collect your deposit and you’ll have a bag for the items you buy afterwards. Collect batteries and light bulbs in a used jam glass or box – take this with you to the store. Make sure items are easily accessible so you remember to drop them off. With small spaces it’s important to regularly deposit your recycling so it doesn’t accumulate.


Lastly, sort what can be sorted, but also consider how you can create less waste. The production of everything we use and eat requires the use of resources and everything has had a long journey before it ends up with you. Eat the food you bought, use the things you have, repair as much as possible, and give away or sell what you no longer need. Your scrap can become someone else’s gold.


Andreas Haslegaard – Communications Advisor, Sanitation Department

1) What is your number 1 tip when it comes to sorting your recyling?

Start with food waste! Everything goes in a green bag near the kitchen counter. Once you’ve done this for 30 days and have seen how easy it is, expand to putting plastic packaging in blue bags.


2) What do you see people struggle with?

Broken drinking glasses shouldn’t be dropped at the return points for glass and metal packaging (only glass and metal packaging can be dropped). Drinking glasses may contain lead and should go in the residual waste. It’s also important to wrap the sharp ends in paper towel or similar. The residual waste bags are compressed quite hard on the way to the sorting facilities and the glass shards can cut the bags that are recycled. Worst case scenario our employees cut themselves while collecting the waste!


3) What storage advice would you give to people who live in small apartments?

Be creative! If you don’t have room under your kitchen counter, use other surfaces. Glass and metal packaging can be collected in a shopping net on the door. Most people find solutions that suit them after trying a few different options.


Food for thought

The Norwegian waste industry collects, processes and recycles 12 million tons of waste every single year. Let that number sink in a little – and let’s all find a sense of responsibility for doing our part and making sure the right waste is in the right place.


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