You may have seen on Facebook or elsewhere that Scandinavians have a different attitude towards trash than Americans. There are videos of vast plains of American trash, coupled with scenic shots of Norwegian recycling bins and fit Swedish runners making picking up trash a part of their everyday workout.

When I moved here, or even when I visited last year, I was definitely surprised by the actual Norwegian commitment to making the most of their waste. Each house has four or five trash bins lined up outside, and each trash bin has its own lid color — brown for food waste, blue for paper waste, orange for glass and metal, purple for plastic, and black for everything else.

How do they keep it all sorted? Naturally, they all have three to four trash cans in their kitchen.

Here, you can see our three cans. One for paper, one for stuff that will get us money, and one for trash. We also have a sack in the pantry for metal and glass.


I mention that we have a can for “stuff that will get us money”. We have the option in the US, where you can turn in bottles and such for a penny here, a nickel there, but only in states where hippies live (CA, WA, etc). Here, the recycling money machines are in every grocery store. They are automated, scanning each item as you put it in the tunnel, and at the end, you get a receipt (or you can opt for a lotto ticket) that you just take up to the checker to get your Kroner. A sack full of Red Bull cans and juice bottles will get us around twenty Kroner, the equivalent of between $2 and $3. Every bit helps! And it is so convenient!

So, what if you have a lot of big trash, and all at once, and it won’t fit in the slim (and adorable) trashcans outside your house, or doesn’t really fit any of the categories that those trashcans represent?

Look no further! You can take your trash to the dump. But this isn’t a landfill. This is a privately owned business. You pay 25NOK (around $3) per large black trash bag of waste, though electronics are free to dispose of. They have a place for everything.

The first picture is the electronics disposal area. A bin for cables, a bin for heaters, a bin for screens, a bin for old fans, a bin for anything.


Once you drive past the electronics area, you see the doors and windows area, and just beyond are a series of dumpsters. There, we could dump styrofoam, plastic, carpet, paper, tires, and on and on. Around from there is a zig-zagged concrete wall that creates car pull-ins. The opposite side of the wall is a sharp drop into deep, industrial container dumpsters where you can dispose of large cardboard, random large trash, and more categories of trash than I can even think of.


There’s a totally separate area of the dump for natural waste, like branches or brush, and yet another section for furniture or other large household items.

Not only is it completely organized and seemingly clean, the place was also completely busy. It was the middle of a weekday, and Norwegians were lined up to get in and pay someone to take care of their trash.

Nowhere here have I seen a sofa (or other like item) abandoned on the side of the road with the cardboard label “Free”. Dumpster diving, though certainly a joy in my college days, doesn’t seem to be a thing here. Additionally, food waste goes into a special compostable green bag, provided by the state, and when you run out of green bags, you simply tie any bag to the trash bin outside and the state will leave you a new roll of the green bags.

The state even provides this gorgeous and very organized trash pickup calendar, color-coded and all:


So, that’s the scoop on Norwegian trash.