Icelanders Efficient in Returning Bottles Skip to content

Icelanders Efficient in Returning Bottles

Icelanders handed in over 93 million bottles and cans for recycling last year. Judging by numbers on production and sale of bottled and canned drinks in 2007, around 80 percent of these bottles were returned, which is a high percentage compared to other countries.

The returning rate has, however, been even higher. A few years ago it was 85 percent, 24 Stundir reports.

For every bottle, recycling company Endurvinnslan hf. pays customers ISK 10 (USD 0.13, EUR 0.08), so the total deposit in 2007 amounted to more than ISK 930 million (USD 12 million, EUR 8 million).

Officer manager at Endurvinnslan Eiríkur Jónsson said it is too early to tell whether the current unstable economic situation in Iceland is encouraging people to hand in more bottles for recycling and collecting the deposit.

“We suspect that the situation is having an impact, but […] we need to assess it at the end of the year,” Jónsson said, adding that the good weather is also an influential factor. “People don’t start cleaning up until the weather improves. If the road conditions are poor during winter the returning rates drop. Then people prefer keeping the bottles and cans in their garage.”

The aluminum cans are compressed at Endurvinnslan and then sent to Britain in containers. “We receive a good price for the aluminum,” Jónsson said, explaining that specialized factories melt the cans and then use the aluminum to create new cans.

The plastic bottles are compressed and transported either to Europe or America where they are shredded and used, among other things, to create polyester. According to Jónsson, the Icelandic plastic bottles are popular because they are made of quality material.

“We pulverize the glass but we cannot charge anything for it,” Jónsson said. The glass is used as cement for scrap heaps and road construction.

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