This is common practice in Canada. While there are certainly households that take it more seriously than others, it's pretty standard to always have separated bins in public areas particularly for bottles & cans and most will be returned for deposit money. (Recycling money was always divvied up between us kids in our family so we always looked forward to the extra $5 to spend on treats at the rink.)
[My favourite program in Canada, offered in a couple of different communities I lived in, was the blue bin/bag program. Anything recyclable was placed in a blue garbage bag or bin and was put out with the garbage. A separate truck would come and pick it up. No sorting necessary.]
When we started spending so much time in the US, I was horrified at the lack of recycling facilities. The inner turmoil I felt having to put that empty bottle in a garbage can was palpable. I could not understand why a country so developed and advanced could be so wasteful. Gabon, of course, was much worse. Everything went in the garbage except for the local glass beer bottles which could be returned to the brewery. It pained me.
Now, Norway - Norway knows how to recycle and it makes me happy. Norwegians are very sensitive about preserving their environment - you would be too when you see how beautiful it is - and thus, have put in place a very intricate system to reduce waste.
Every household is equipped with 3 bins - 1 for garbage, 1 for bio-waste, and 1 for paper. These bins are emptied by the local waste management department. (I've heard that if they WM Dep't sees that you are not following the guidelines, they will not collect the contents of your bin thus leaving you with heaping mounds of garbage so it's best to just do it. ) In addition to that, there are recycling facilities for plastic, glass & tin as well as a deposit system for certain beverage containers.
Let me explain:
1. Anything that cannot be recycled or composted goes in the garbage (white bag) under our sink. All food waste and things that can be composted go in the green, biodegradable bag. (The biodegradable bags are actually delivered to our door once a year by the municipality.)
2. Usually about twice a week, the bags are bundled up to go out.
3. Because we live in an apartment, we dispose of these in the appropriate containers in our neighbourhood (as opposed to having our own personal bins outside of a house.)
Now, that's not all.
We also divide up other recyclable materials. The above picture is our utility closet. It's pretty self explanatory but when those containers are full, we take them to the neighbourhood bins that are divided just as we have done in our home. We usually do this every 2 weeks.
There are certain things (water bottles, beer cans, coke bottles) that have a deposit on them. For example, at the grocery store every glass bottle of coke comes with a 1 kroner deposit that you pay on top of the product cost. At the front of the store sits an automated machine that sort of looks like a vending machine which you feed your empty bottles into - it scans them all, takes them and prints out a receipt with a total which then can be returned to you in cash or can be donated to a local charity.
-Compost stinks. Not really. It stinks just like your garbage stinks if you leave it too long before taking it out. If you actually had to keep the compost piles in your yard then yes, it might smell but on a day to day basis in our house, it is no different.
-It takes a lot of space. Recycling only takes a lot of space if you never deposit it to the bins. We live in an apartment and it's not a problem for us.
-It's difficult. It's really not that difficult once you have a system set up. Our bins are right there and it's just as easy to rinse out a can and put it in the tin bin as it is to throw it in the garbage.
This is an aspect of Norwegian life that I embrace fully. Regardless of your thoughts on global warming, it never hurts to limit our waste to keep this stunning world we live in clean and healthy.