Tonnes of Icelandic plastic exported to be recycled in 2016 are still sitting in a warehouse in Sweden, Stundin reports. The Icelandic Recycling Fund will demand that Swedish recycling company Swerec upholds its commitments regarding Icelandic plastic sent to be recycled, Vísir reports. The chairman of the board of the Recycling Fund states that Icelandic recycling companies operated under the belief that they were working with a reputable company in Sweden.
A year ago, Stundin reported that while Icelandic plastic was sent abroad to be recycled, the percentage of plastic that was actually recycled was much smaller than reported. Today, Stundin reported that more than half of all plastic exported from Iceland to Sweden to be recycled in 2016, approx. 1500 tonnes, is still sitting in a run-down warehouse in the town of Päryd in Southern Sweden. Stundin reporter and photographer travelled to Sweden and were stunned to find a warehouse packed with Icelandic plastic, that according to reports should have been recycled years ago.
Official reports in Iceland claim that the plastic has been recycled and Icelandic waste disposal companies have been paid for taking care of the waste in an environmentally friendly way. Environment Minister Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson told Vísir that it was important that people trust the system when it comes to recycling and that the ministry had contacted the board of the Icelandic Recycling Fund as soon as the news broke. “We’re waiting for further clarification on what’s happening and what we can do about it,” Guðlaugur stated. “We aren’t doing all this [recycling] for the plastic to end up where it is now, that’s for sure.”
Chairman of the Board of the Icelandic Recycling Fund Magnús Jóhannesson stated that the fund’s reaction to the news that the plastic still hasn’t been recycled is that next week, the board will be contacting Swerec, demanding that they take the Icelandic plastic and get it processed. He pointed out that Icelandic companies believed that Swerec was a reputable company and that comparable institutions to the Icelandic Recycling Fund in Norway and Sweden also dealt with Swerec. Swerec had sold a portion of the Icelandic plastic to another company at the time that later went under, leading to the Icelandic plastic still sitting in the warehouse. Magnús stated that the Fund believed the issue had been resolved. “it’s clear now that it wasn’t and that’s why we will be responding in this way,” he told Vísir. Magnús does not believe that plastic is the responsibility of the Icelandic Recycling Fund, stating that the responsibility lies with the Swedish company and that they will make sure that they do their duty.