Organic Waste Collection to Begin in Reykjavík Area in May

organic waste Reykjavíkurborg

Residents of the Reykjavík capital area will be able to separate their organic waste for the first time starting next month. New legislation that took effect at the beginning of this year makes it illegal to bury organic waste, such as food scraps, in landfills. Organic waste will be used to produce methane fuel and compost.

New split bins and organic waste bags provided

Reykjavík residences currently have bins for mixed waste, paper and cardboard, and plastic, which residents are expected to sort separately. (Glass and metal are also disposed of separately at community sorting stations or SORPA locations.) Organic waste bins will now be added to the household waste to collect food scraps, including eggshells, leftovers containing fish and bones, and coffee grinds and filters. This organic waste was previously disposed of in mixed waste bins in the capital area.

Despite the addition of a new sorting category for household waste, a notice from the City of Reykjavík says that most residences will not see a change in the number of bins, as split bins will be introduced that have separate compartments for different categories of waste. Implementation will vary between detached homes and multi-family residences such as duplexes, triplexes, and apartment buildings. Municipalities will also provide containers and paper bags for the collection of organic waste.

In addition to the four-category sorting that happens at residences, the number of neighbourhood collection stations for metal, glass, and textile waste will be increased so that there is a station no more than 500 metres from each home. Larger neighbourhood sorting stations will be located no more than a kilometre from each home, where additional containers for paper and plastic will be available.

Organic waste collection will be implemented in phases across the capital area starting next month. All homes are to receive the new bins by autumn 2023.

More information is available on the City of Reykjavík website, though it should be noted that the English-language version is machine translated and may contain errors.

Garbage Collection Resumes, Strike Ongoing

Garbage collection resumed in Reykjavík this morning despite an ongoing strike among City of Reykjavík staff who are members of Efling Union. Garbage collection was suspended when a general strike began on February 17. The service has now been temporarily exempted from the strike due to public health concerns connected to COVID-19. Three cases of the virus have been confirmed in Iceland.

Garbage collection began in the neighbourhood of Breiðholt this morning, and the neighbourhood of Árbær will follow later in the week. City workers did not manage to collect garbage from these two neighbourhoods before the strike began.

Only mixed household waste will be collected from private residences this week, not paper or plastic. Residents of Reykjavík can bring sorted paper and plastic recycling to Sorpa’s drop-off centres

The strike exemption for garbage collection will stand until March 6.

Garbage Piling Up During Ongoing Strike

With negotiations between the City of Reykjavík and its workers in the Efling labour union at a standstill, parents of young children are not the only ones feeling the effects of the ongoing strike. City sanitation workers are also taking part in the action. As such, many public trash cans throughout Reykjavík are overflowing and, Vísir reports, residents are being asked to take care of their own garbage as best they can.

In a radio interview on Thursday, Ragna I. Halldórsdóttir, division head of the environmental and educational division of Sorpa, the waste management company responsible for Reykjavík’s garbage and recycling, encouraged residents to take their non-recyclable household garbage to the large dumpsters that are located in many neighbourhoods or to drive it directly to one of Sorpa’s six centres in the capital area.

Ragna said that individuals can bring up to two m3 [70 ft3] of garbage directly to Sorpa and drop it off free of charge. She also said that some larger neighbourhood associations have paid for delivery vans to transport their garbage to Sorpa on their behalf.

“At this time, we just have to take care of ourselves, unfortunately,” she remarked. “Or use delivery trucks or the like.”

Ragna said that Sorpa’s contingency plan is being reviewed to determine what actions will need to be undertaken if the strike continues, as well as how to handle a large influx of garbage likely to arrive at the company’s processing stations after the strike ends.


Garbage Cans Overflow in Reykjavík

garbage strike Reykjavík

It’s been one week since waste has been collected in Reykjavík, and garbage cans on the city’s streets are overflowing. Around 1,850 City of Reykjavík employees who are members of Efling Union have been on a general strike since February 17, partially or fully shutting down services at many preschools and primary schools, as well as affecting welfare services and waste management. All garbage collection services are suspended as a result of the strike, including from residential buildings and public spaces.

In a notice to residents, the City of Reykjavík stated recycling can be disposed of at SORPA drop-off centres around the city. Mixed household waste can be disposed of at recycling centres “if the situation in residents’ trash storage rooms is dire.” Residents will be charged for mixed household waste in excess of two cubic metres.

Sorpa’s website provides a list of recycling centres and drop-off points.

Reykjavík City Employees Strike Tomorrow

preschool kindergarten kids children child

Over 1,800 employees of the City of Reykjavík who are members of Efling Union will strike tomorrow, February 4, between 12.30pm and midnight. A majority of these employees work within the school system, and most of those at preschools, which will be see shortened hours or closures as a result. Garbage collection and the city’s welfare department will also be impacted.

Contract negotiations between the City and Efling Union have so far been unsuccessful. The parties met today in a last-minute effort to avoid the strike, but as Efling’s director Viðar Þorsteinsson told RÚV, “Nothing came forth from the City that creates a basis for negotiation.”

Efling members voted overwhelmingly in favour of the strike, with 95.5% supporting strike measures throughout February. Voter turnout was relatively high, at just under 60%. Tomorrow’s strike is the first of five temporary strikes which are scheduled this month as follows:

Tuesday, February 4 from 12.30pm to 11.59pm.

Thursday, February 6 from 12.01am to 11.59pm.

Tuesday, February 11 from 12.30pm to 11.59pm.

Wednesday, February 12 from 12.01am to 11.59pm.

Thursday, February 13 from 12.01am to 11.59pm.

Efling Union members who work for the City of Reykjavík will strike indefinitely starting Monday, February 17 at 12.01am unless an agreement is reached before that time.

City of Reykjavík to Begin Collecting Organic Waste

Grundarhverfi will be the first district of Reykjavík to start separating organic waste in a pilot project which begins next month. Residents of the district are invited to a meeting tomorrow where the project will be presented. The City of Reykjavík plans to introduce separate collection of organic waste throughout the city in 2020.

While residents of Reykjavík can separate plastic, paper, metal, and glass for recycling, there is no special collection of organic waste, which instead is grouped together will landfill waste. The pilot project in Grundarhverfi will begin in November, and will give the city an opportunity to test out equipment and fine-tune the collection system.

The pilot project is expected to continue through next year, until a new composting plant currently under construction is completed. The waste collected in the pilot will be buried.

Grundarhverfi is the least populous district under the jurisdiction of the City of Reykjavík, and is located north of Mosfellsbær. Residents who participate in the project will be surveyed on their experience after the project concludes.