“Norway: Environmental hero or hypocrite?” was the question the Financial Times asked a year ago. As a resident in Norway for the last decade and with a background of research and innovation, I have long been concerned with the same question.
Norway has implemented a number of measures for a green shift. For example, power generation is mainly based on renewable sources, and the number of electric cars per capita is the largest in the world. Nevertheless, the waste volume in Norway increased by 7% while recycling decreased 1% from 2013 to 2014.
I was a research scientist at SINTEF between November 2012 and February this year. During these years, I have been concerned that there are no trash cans for sorting food waste, plastic, bottles, glass and metal, while there are plastic cups in each kitchen at the SINTEF offices in Oslo.
I believe that an organisation researching technology to fight global warming should “eat its own dog food”. A year ago, I suggested that the SINTEF administration in Oslo should reduce waste volume and increase recycling. Despite multiple reminders, they have never returned to me.
SINTEF is probably not the only organisation that does not sort its waste, but if not even a research organisation takes responsibility for the environment, then Norway has a problem with environmental culture.
While we wait for the authorities to force businesses to tackle the problem, tonnes of recyclable trash are thrown away as mixed waste every day. Is it not time to quit the double standards and actually start implementing a comprehensive green shift? The alternative is to get a reputation that is hard to get rid of: being an environmental hypocrite.
The original version of this article was published in Norwegian in Aftenposten on June 2017.