The exchange project visits a waste management plant in Oslo!

Video from the visit

Mary Appophia, exchange participant
Mary Appophia, exchange participant

From finding my way around opening the clothes dryer machine, using the dishwasher, differentiating Train time from African time, to realising that zebra crossing means that I can literally use the road regardless of vehicles passing; something else that has taken me so long to grasp while in Oslo,is the concept of white, blue and green bags.

Well, until a couple of days ago.

Let me first introduce you to the blue, white and green bags.

Households in Oslo are provided with blue and green bags. (The bags can also be picked at no fee in supermarkets)

And the purpose of these bags is to store household wastes in them. Residual waste goes into the white plastic bag; Plastic goes into the blue bag; while Food waste goes into the green bag. It sounds quite simple but a few things I had not quite understood are: What is really supposed to go into the blue bag?  Why do I have to clean my yoghurt cup before disposing it? And what really is food waste? Are  flowers food wastes? Why is it important to tie double knots on the waste storage bags before disposing them? And if both the blue and green trash bags end up in the same large trash bin, why is it useful to put the plastic and food trash separately?

While I may not answer all above in this article, I can definitely say a recent visit to the Agency for Waste Management in Oslo answered our questions.(Our= Exchange Participants) And what greatly fascinated us was the automatic optical sorting system that separates the blue bags from the green bags ensuring that each type of waste ends up where it is supposed to be.

Waste in the green bag is used to produce bio-fertilizers and biogas that is currently providing enough biogas to run 135 buses.The visit also informed us that one banana peel is single-handedly capable of running a bus for 95 metres.

Plastic waste in the blue bag is recycled to make new plastic packaging and items such as sportswear, office chairs, toys, etc. and you certainly don’t want to make clothes and chairs out of dirty plastic; hence important to clean the plastics.

Chewing gum? Flowers? It’s in the white bag 🙂 This is because flowers usually contain huge amounts of pesticides which we do not want in our bio-fertilizers  The residual waste is then incinerated to produce energy for district heating.

And if you wondered about the smoke from the incineration,it is cleaned and the smoke released contains 99% water.

In total this system of waste management saves up to 15,000 tonnes of Carbon dioxide emissions each year.

“We don’t use the term garbage, because with garbage there is no value. We say Waste. Because Waste is resources.”- Linda from the Agency for Waste Management in Oslo.”

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