Image: Golli.

Icelandic Waste Exported to Europe

 In Business, News, Society

Waste from South Iceland is being used in the Netherlands to heat houses and in Denmark to produce electricity, Vísir reports. The export is a recent development and was spurred by the closure of a landfill in the region.

After a landfill site in the municipality of Ölfus was closed, South Iceland towns have had difficulties finding a final resting place for their waste. No other municipality was willing to dedicate land area to a new disposal site, and waste from the region was driven long distances to other parts of the country. Now some municipalities in the region, including Ölfus, have begun to export their waste.

Jón Þórir Frantzson is the director of Íslenska gámafélagið (IGF), which manages waste for many Icelandic municipalities, industrial firms, and businesses. He says the export has gotten off to a good start. “They sort all the waste into four categories. One category is that which is called non-recyclable and that we’ve exported to Rotterdam for the past three months and that is used for heating Dutch people’s houses and that’s gone very well. Of course this is the second-worst option but it’s good in the sense that there we’re talking about incineration, which is in competition with coal and nuclear energy. We know that coal is very environmentally bad and nuclear energy is very dangerous, so this is something that’s positive.”

Jón says the waste is being transported in containers that were otherwise returning to Europe empty. He hopes to arrange for all South Iceland municipalities to export their waste abroad. “We have also made contracts with Aalborg [in Denmark] as 31% of all the electricity which is produced in Aalborg is produced in a waste incinerator and all the water which is heated in houses goes through the waste incinerator.” Jón says there are more countries interested in importing waste from Iceland.

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