Three pupils from Søroya in Finnmark, Norway have been named national champions in the environmental campaign Tea Light Hunt. Over the last six months, schoolchildren across the country have competed to see who could collect the most used aluminium tea lights for recycling.
Tea Light Hunt was launched last October by the WWF and IKEA Norway in cooperation with the non-profit recycling organization Green Dot, the commercial recycler Syklus and Hydro. The campaign wrapped up at the end of March.
More than 26,000 students from grade one to four were involved in the campaign and a total of 13 million tea light cups were collected! This is enough aluminium to build 1,924 bicycles.
On Wednesday the mayor in Hasvik municipality and representatives from Tea Light Hunt surprised the winning class at Sørvær School on Søroya in Finnmark.
The three winners, Isabell Hansen, Mirja Andersen Tuven and Eleni Kotsolakos believe that everyone in their community has learned that they should recycle used tea lights to improve the environment. The girls have involved the entire community and collected tea lights from both the local pub and grocery store.
"Did we win? Now I'm proud," exclaimed third grader Isabell. "It's important to take good care of the environment for the sake of the Earth," stressed Mirja in the fourth grade.
The children of Sørvær School have collected over 18,000 tea light cups: more than 6,000 per student. "This is an impressive effort," says the head of sustainability in IKEA Norway, Nina Schefte.
From waste to resource
This is the first time Tea Light Hunt has been held in Norway. The aim of the campaign was to help turn waste into resources, and spread knowledge about aluminium recycling in a fun and informative way.
"Aluminium is one of the most recycling-friendly metals around. Tea Light Hunt has shown that even small amounts of waste can make a big difference if everyone contributes," says Schefte.
Now the winning class from Finnmark will be traveling to Hydro's aluminium plant in Holmestand to learn more about recycling. There they will be greeted by Hydro's CEO Svein Richard Brandtzaeg.
"It's impressive to see the enormous enthusiasm for aluminium recycling. I am looking forward to showing the pupils from Sørvær how recycling is actually carried out," he says.
"We hope that through Tea Light Hunt we have succeeded in changing attitudes among many people so that schoolchildren and others continue to deliver used tea lights to recycling even after the campaign is over," says Nina Jensen, Secretary General of WWF.
Nine tonnes of aluminium for recycling
Norway is a world leader when it comes to the recycling of aluminium, but 140 million used tea lights still end up in the garbage every year. A survey by market research company YouGov on behalf of IKEA shows that three out of four Norwegians throw used tea lights right in the trash.
Thanks to the efforts of schoolchildren during the Tea Light Hunt, more than nine tons of aluminium have been recycled instead of being thrown out. Everyone who has participated is therefore a winner.
In addition to being national winners, the pupils at Sørvær School are also winners for the county of Finnmark. A summary of the 18 other county winners can be found on the Tea Light Hunt website (see link in right column, in Norwegian only).