South Korea wants to learn from Norway

“Infinitum’s refundable deposit scheme is far ahead of the field. In South Korea, we need such an advanced system, which is why we are visiting Infinitum to learn how the Norwegian system works,” says Chang Deok Won, director of the South Korean research institute Mirae Environment Co Ltd.
Bilde til South Korea wants to learn from Norway

The Norwegian refundable deposit scheme is a role model for the rest of the world. Over the past two years, representatives from more than 30 countries have visited Infinitum’s facility at the Fet Industrial Park, just outside Oslo. This is where the company annually sorts and processes over one billion plastic bottles and aluminium cans that consumers have returned under the refundable deposit scheme.

Infinitum is hosting visitors in 2020 as well. In February, for example, the company was visited by a delegation from the Korea Resource Circulation Service Agency and the South Korean research institute Mirae Environment Co Ltd.

Importance of knowledge sharing
“It is inspiring that other people look to Infinitum and Norway to learn about our effective refundable deposit scheme. The system we have in Norway works extremely well. When we hear the discussions about plastic littering and plastic pollution in the oceans, it makes us want to share our knowledge so that more countries can establish effective collection systems,” says Infinitum’s CEO Kjell Olav Maldum.

Norway has an extremely high return and recycling rate for beverage containers. In 2019, 90 per cent of all plastic bottles and aluminium cans were collected back in. All of the bottles and cans that are collected are recycled. The refundable deposit model is also extremely cost-effective, and many countries around the world are looking to learn from Norway’s experience.

Different systems
Several of the delegations that visit Infinitum come from countries which do not currently have a refundable deposit system in place. Others have a system that they want to improve or expand. South Korea has a high collection rate for several types of packaging and materials, but hopes to bring in even more by expanding its refundable deposit system.

“In South Korea, the refundable deposit system is only for glass bottles. The Norwegian system is for plastic bottles and aluminium cans, so it is a little different to our solutions. We have drawn up a plan to expand our system, and want eventually to include cans and plastic bottles. In addition, we are also planning to establish a new facility, but are dependent on funding from the government or other investors,” says Chang Deok Won.

At present, South Korea has a refundable deposit on certain types of glass bottles. The scheme is operated by Korea Resource Circulation Service Agency. Mirae Environmental Co Ltd is currently carrying out a study to see how the South Korean system can be expanded.