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Experienced tea light hunters on winners' visit to Holmestrand

After collecting the most aluminium tea light cups per student, the grade one and two classes from Lid school in Hordaland County are the Norwegian Tea Light Hunt champions for the second year in a row. On Friday the students visited Hydro in Holmestrand, where Climate and Environment Minister Tine Sundtoft was among those on hand to congratulate the winners.

In the space of three months, the first and second graders at Lid School collected a total of 113,128 used tea lights. This corresponds to 10,284 tea light cups per student, and this secured them another victory in the annual competition to deliver the most tea lights to metal recycling.

"We all have something to learn from the effort shown by the participants in Tea Light Hunt. They are role models for both young and old," says Tine Sundtoft, Norway's Minister of Climate and Environment.

During the three years Tea Light Hunt has been held, over 87,000 school children and day care children from across Norway have participated. They have collected nearly 30 million used aluminium tea lights for recycling, enough to produce around 4,200 bicycles. By their efforts, they have saved the environment from 170 tonnes of CO2 emissions, recycled over 20 tonnes of aluminium, and made adults aware of how to recycle even more aluminium.

Competition to increase knowledge

The three month long Tea Light Hunt was organized by the WWF and IKEA Norway in cooperation with the non-profit recycling organization Green Dot, the commercial recycler Syklus and Hydro. The competition ended January 31 this year.

"The main purpose of Tea Light Hunt has been to get more people to separate and recycle tea light cups, and to increase awareness of the value of taking care of natural resources," says WWF Norway's Secretary General Nina Jensen.

Surveys conducted before the first Tea Light Hunt in 2011 and after this year's competition show that more and more people are realizing that used tea light cups represent a resource that can and should be recycled.

"In 2011, 24 percent of those surveyed responded that they regularly recycled used tea light cups. After this year's competition, this proportion had increased to 35 percent. For parents who have children in elementary school, the figure is now 45 percent. We think this is very encouraging," says Nina Schefte, head of sustainability at IKEA Norway.

Collected the most of all

In another category of most tea lights collected per class, the grade two class at Helgerud School in Hønefoss, north of Oslo, came first in this year's competition. With 152,188 tea light cups, the class was awarded a "Special winner" prize that included a trip to Holmestrand to visit Hydro's rolling and recycling facility.

Hydro's plant in Holmestrand will remelt all the 8,456,254 tea light cups collected by Tea Light Hunt this year. This is almost six tonnes of the light metal - enough for 1,208 bicycles.

"Aluminium is a valuable resource that consumes a lot of energy to produce from the raw material bauxite. However, when the metal is first produced, we need only five percent of the energy to remelt the metal and give it new life as part of a bike, a car, a plane or a mobile phone," says Kjetil Ebbesberg, plant manager for Hydro in Holmestrand.

An innovative partnership

Tea Light Hunt is the result of a collaboration between five partners, each representing a part of the life cycle of a small tea candle. IKEA is the tea light manufacturer and retailer, Green Dot is the administrator of the return and collection system, Syklus is a major recycler of glass and metal, Hydro produces and recycles aluminium and WWF contributes as an environmental organization.

"This has been an exciting and inspiring team effort over three years. This cooperation between industry and an environmental organization has created greater awareness amongst Norwegians. It is also an example of how we accomplish more when we work together. We hope that this interdisciplinary collaboration can inspire others who want to achieve results in the environmental field," says WWF Norway's Secretary General Nina Jensen.

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