Construction Begins on Country’s Largest Land-Based Aquaculture Facility

Construction has begun on what will become the largest land-based aquaculture facility in Iceland, Vísir reports. The company, Landseldi ehf. (also known in English as Deep Atlantic Salmon Project) bases its operations in Þorlákshöfn, South Iceland and eventually plans to raise 40,000 tons of salmon annually. It is also committed to utilizing all of the farm’s biproducts, or sludge, as a rich, “biologically perfect” fertilizer.

Founded in 2017 by entrepreneurs with experience in aquaculture, the construction industry, geothermal energy, and finance, Landeldi, ehf. says its mission is no less than to “inspire the global transition to fully sustainable food production, use terraforming aquaculture to rear an abundance of salmon on land, fertilize the earth, and regenerate the climate.” While fish farming in sea pens has been criticised for its environmental impact, fish farming in tanks on land eliminates many problems such as the possibility of farmed salmon mixing with wild fish and pollution from waste gathering on the ocean floor. Such operations require more energy, but Landeldi claims that Iceland’s geothermal energy can keep the production carbon-neutral and that 100% of the water used in its facility is renewable and sourced from boreholes in its ownership.

Will bring 170 new jobs to booming Þorlákshöfn

Landeldi’s current expansion is part of a three-phase plan. As the company’s website explains, their “production quantity will double every two years. Starting at 5,000 tons in 2022 it will have grown to at least 20,000 tons by 2027.”

The current phase will will create 170 new jobs in the town, which has itself seen enormous expansion in recent years, not least due to a local boom in land-based fish farming. When Landeldi began its first construction phase in 2021, three other companies were developing land-based aquaculture facilities there as well.

“The main construction will be of some 150 to 160 tanks, which will be carried out for a cost of around ISK 70 billion [$4.85 million; €4.59 million] over the next 10 years,” says Rúnar Þór Þórarinsson, Landeldi’s head of sustainability and development. “It’s a really big project and we’re well underway. We’ve had a hatchery at Öxnalækur [a land-based aquaculture farm not far from Þorlákshöfn], where we completely renovated the facilities, and which we bought as soon as the environmental assessment was done. We’ve got salmon in seawater tanks in Þorlákshöfn—big tanks, 15-20 m [49-65 ft]—and we’re building 25 and 30-meter [82 and 98-ft] tanks this year.”

‘The environmental friendliness of land-based aquaculture is close to our hearts’

Þorlákshöfn is particularly well-situated for land-based aquaculture, says Rúnar Þór. “The conditions are unique there because we’ve got the sea, which Iceland itself filters for us. The strata are quite permeable, alternating between sand and [porous] rock, [which started out as lava] in volcanic eruptions 7,000 – 20,000 years ago. And the sea cleans out parasites, plastic particles, and other things that can harm the fish.” (See a more detailed description of this process on the Landeldi website, in English, here.)

Landeldi is also particularly proud of the unique system it has developed to utilize all of its facilities’ biowaste.

“The environmental friendliness of land-based aquaculture is close to our hearts,” says Rúnar Þór. “This is in our DNA as a company. We intend to collect the fish manure and work with other fish farms to utilize it for the good of the land and support agriculture with fertilizer, biochar, and compost production by any means necessary.”

New Report Examines Food Self-Sufficiency in Five Nordic Island Societies

Iceland fishing quota reform

A new report examining the ways in which “greater food self-sufficiency can contribute to increased sustainability and resilience in the food systems of five Nordic island societies” finds that Iceland has a high degree of food self-sufficiency, thanks in large part to its “substantial fish and seafood production.” Even so, there remains work to be done to achieve even greater self-sufficiency, and food security remains the country’s “primary focus.”

The report, “Food self-sufficiency in five Nordic island societies,” was funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Working Group for Circular Economy. In addition to Iceland, it also investigated food self-sufficiency in Bornholm, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Åland. Researchers explored local strategies for food production and interviewed local experts, compared what challenges and opportunities for food self-sufficiency were perceived by people living in each society, and compiled a list of “good examples” from each place, while also noting that “local food production does not automatically equate to sustainable food production.”

Iceland, like Greenland and the Faroe Islands, is subject to the Arctic climate, shorter growing seasons, and “fewer areas with suitable soil conditions for agricultural production,” notes the report. But none of these factors prevent it from having the second highest degree of self-sufficiency (when measured in energy). This is, in part, because of the “abundance of marine resources” at its disposal, as well as “innovative production methods that use natural resources,” namely “geothermal heating for vegetable production.”

Screenshot of table in “Food self-sufficiency in five Nordic Island Societies,” Nordic Council of Ministers, August 2022

Researchers calculated food self-sufficiency in two ways, the main difference between the two methods being “whether exported food is considered.” Per the report, “The first calculation, degree of self-sufficiency, is defined as the proportion of food that is both produced and consumed in a country or region, and excludes exported food. The second calculation, food self-sufficiency ratio, considers the total food production, including food that may eventually be exported.”

Measured in energy (KJ), Iceland had the second highest degree of self-sufficiency (53%) after the Finnish islands of Åland (59%). Bornholm had the lowest ranking according to this measurement, or 6%, coming in the lowest in this category because such a large share of the food produced on the Danish island is exported. But all of the island societies ranked high “regarding the amount of food (kgs) and the caloric value” of food produced. In Iceland, Greenland, and the Faroes, this is, again, credited to “substantial fish and seafood production.”

When exports are taken into consideration, however, Iceland’s self-sufficiency ratio is the lowest of the five island societies, whether measured in energy or in kilos. The Faroe Islands had the highest self-sufficiency ratio in both measurements: 446% when measured in energy (KJ) and 549% when measured in kilos. While ranking the lowest, Iceland still had a 100% score when the self-sufficiency ratio was measured in energy, and 109% when measured in kilos.

The number of tourists in each country was considered alongside the local populations, although interestingly for Iceland, “tourism was found to have a limited effect on the level of food self-sufficiency” in each society.

Focus remains on food security

Reviewing the food and agricultural strategies employed in each of the island societies, researchers found that Iceland’s primary focus remains on food security; “food self-sufficiency is included but not heavily emphasised” in its policy and production.

All of the societies examined shared many of the same challenges (such as local competition against cheaper, imported foods), vulnerabilities (dependency on imported materials such as fodder and fertiliser to support food production), and barriers (“an available and suitably qualified workforce”). They also shared strengths, such as relatively small populations, “which means that collaboration and creating synergies across food system actors is an achievable reality.”

The report concludes with eleven policy recommendations “to guide future work on food self-sufficiencies and local food systems” in each of the five studied societies. These include: increased access to locally produced food for restaurants, public institutions, and local citizens; the addressing of of consumer behaviour and eating habits; exploring new business models geared toward the local market; the exploration of “possibilities for diversifying the food production,” not least with an eye to “transitioning a share of animal-based food production to plant-based options” and more.

You can read the full report and its findings, in English, here.

Grounded

hulda sveinsdóttir iceland sustainability

Iceland’s nature is truly magnificent. Grand mountain ranges flanking bottomless fjords. Endless stretches of tundra and vast glaciers. Formidable rivers and thundering waterfalls. But what is there to see when you take your focus off the horizon and bring it closer: to the soil beneath your feet? What if you could zoom in even further, see the microorganisms that are invisible to the naked eye but actually make up the vast majority of the genetic diversity on the planet and are the basis of its ecosystems? 

We have plenty of information on Iceland’s soil and microbial ecosystems. But theoretical knowledge is quite a different beast from practical knowledge. You can put soil under a microscope, dissect its chemical components, and assess which tiny critters reside in it. Or you could take a more creative approach and experiment – just to see what happens. Through trial and error, Iceland’s creative people are digging in the dirt – literally – and making illuminating discoveries along the way.

EARTH TONES

“I started wondering if I could dye fabrics in these colours
and did a few experiments, but it wasn’t clicking. I’m not
a textile artist, I’m a ceramic artist.”

A far cry from mass-produced soil, forming clay by hand is an intimate one, with the material coming to life from the touch of an artist’s fingers. That sort of connection is hard to come by with Iceland’s soil: most of the ingredients Icelandic ceramic artists work with are imported. While there’s clay all around the country, making it into a piece of pottery is a challenge. Ceramic artist Hulda Katarína Sveinsdóttir grew up in Hveragerði, a town named for the geologically active ground. “I felt an affinity for the hot spring clay, but people really don’t like it, and I get that, because it’s hard to work with.” 

A few years ago, Hulda began researching what she could make from Icelandic clay. “The results were brittle and would often explode in the oven.” Working with natural clay means that you don’t always know what you’re getting into. Clay is a fine-grained, natural soil containing clay minerals, but its chemical composition differs vastly. The most obvious way you can tell is its range of colours. “When I was studying, we looked into Icelandic clay. You’ll see a field of bright red clay streaked with veins of yellow or silver,” Hulda tells me. Once she had explored all the qualities (and weaknesses) of Iceland’s clay, she was most struck by the colours. “I kept working on it, and I noticed that cloth that touched the clay would stain, and the colour wouldn’t easily wash out.” 

One of the difficulties of working with Icelandic clay is that it shrinks drastically in the kiln. It’s not just water that evaporates but all sorts of natural chemicals, such as sulphur. “When firing the clay, it’s important to be wary of the fumes, as a lot of sulphur dioxide gets released.” Sulphur is a natural colour fastener, which inspired Hulda to start thinking about the clay colours in a new way. “I started wondering if I could dye fabrics in these colours and did a few experiments, but it wasn’t clicking. I’m a ceramic artist, not a textile artist. But that’s the process that led me to make crayons out of the clay.” In her natural clay crayons, Hulda captures the surprisingly varied colourscape of Iceland, using finely ground clay from geothermal sites and the region surrounding her hometown of Hveragerði. 

During the process, several things surprised her. The biggest one was the immense variation between different types of clay, even those that were sourced only a few kilometres from each other. Some required only a bare minimum of the soy wax she uses as a binder, while others turned brittle without plenty of it. “I thought I could figure out the ratio and use the same recipe for all of the assorted colours. That was impossible. Each clay had its very own personality.” While the crayons present a beautiful way to connect with the colours of Iceland, to Hulda, this is one step of the way to familiarising herself with Iceland’s clay.

GREAT WASTE

If this is so easy and so good for the planet and so effective, why hasn’t anyone done this on a large scale?

Björk Brynjarsdóttir and Julia Miriam Brenner love dirt so much that they want to make more of it. Much more, in fact. And they’ve developed an ingenious way to do it: by making trash into treasure. 

In the modern world, technological improvements have often served to move us further away from natural processes. One of the most pertinent issues this has created is the way we manage waste: burning it or burying it in a landfill isn’t sustainable, and all over the world, people are working hard to solve the problem of what to do with what we throw away. Björk and Júlía are working on one such solution through their composting company Jarðgerðarfélagið. Their goal is to take a complicated issue – managing organic household waste – and develop a solution applicable on a large scale without sacrificing the hygiene and comfort we’ve come to expect. The key, if you ask the pair, is microorganisms. 

Have you ever made compost? You need time, oxygen, and heat, and you even need to stir it. That process brings to mind two unpleasant words: trash juice. When Björk was studying in Denmark, she heard about another composting method:  fermentation. “The first thing that sparked my interest was what this would mean for the environment,” Björk tells me. “But now I just find  everything about it fascinating.” Her partner in crime, Julia, is a soil scientist. They met while taking a class on home composting. “The thing is, individuals can compost independently, and many are, but they shouldn’t have to. Putting the responsibility on the individual is not a sustainable solution.” She explains that in Iceland, the responsibility of waste management is entirely in the hands of municipal authorities. If they want to do better, they can – and they should! 

Bokashi composting is a way of taking organic waste and transforming it into nutritious fertiliser. Composting is not the right word for it, as the bokashi method relies on fermentation, an anaerobic (oxygen-free) process, and traditional composting requires oxygen. Developed in Japan in the eighties, all you need to do it at home is a sealed bucket and some microorganism-infused bran, and in two weeks, your vegetable scraps and banana peels become usable fertiliser. Unlike traditional composting methods, there’s no stirring needed, and since the bucket is fully sealed, it doesn’t emit any unwanted smells. The microorganisms kill harmful bacteria and promote the growth of good ones, much like when making kimchi or sauerkraut. Keeping organic waste out of landfills also stops it from producing more greenhouse gases. 

It all sounds a little too good to be true. “Right?” says Björk. “At every step in this process, we’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop. Like, if this is so easy and so good for the planet and so effective, why hasn’t anyone done this on a large scale?” Björk and Julia are now working with Rangárvallasýsla, a region in south Iceland, to scale up their bokashi production. “We’ve been taking this one step at a time, not making grand plans until we know for sure that this works. But so far, it’s been working pretty spectacularly. After our first pilot project, we did some user interviews, and people were thrilled with it. And the process creates a nitrate-rich soil, which is perfect for Iceland, as our volcanic soil naturally lacks nitrate.” When doing their due diligence, Julia and Björk were also pleasantly surprised with the hygienic properties of their microorganisms. “We absolutely flooded some waste with E. coli and salmonella to test them. After leaving it with the microbes for a couple of weeks, the harmful bacteria had been completely annihilated.”

Microbe Brewery

iceland sustainability

Iceland’s environment doesn’t only offer materials for artmaking: its microorganisms can also make food. While modern science has deepened our understanding of microorganisms such as yeast, you don’t need to know what’s working or how to make some magic happen. People have been doing it for millennia; baking bread, fermenting vegetables for storage and easier consumption – and making beer. 

When Sveinn Steinar Benediktsson and Kjartan Óli Guðmundsson met, they were both studying design at the Iceland University of the Arts. They shared a massive interest in microorganisms, and over a beer or two, Grugg&Makk was born. Using old traditions peppered with modern science, they set out to figure out what Iceland tasted like. 

To make beer, you only need four ingredients: water, grain, hops, and yeast. The yeast is where things get complicated. These days, you can go to the grocery store and buy commercially produced yeast that comes to life in your bread or beer, but you don’t actually have to go that far; there’s yeast in the soil and air all around us. The Grugg&Makk boys simply leave out a liquid containing the optimal conditions for the kinds of microbes they want to attract, and the milkshake brings all the boys to the yard. Only in this case, the milkshake is an unfermented beer base, and the yard is a brewery. 

“Grugg&Makk is all about collecting bacteria in certain places in Iceland,” Sveinn tells me. “We’re connecting the microbial ecosystems of specific locations with a flavour experience. So, you can taste a place.” A glass of wild ale brewed with yeast collected in a lava field is a cloudy golden colour and tastes fresh, with a hint of currants, lactic acid, and warm spices. “Seeing through a microscope doesn’t tell you much about what’s going on, but tasting a beer made with yeast from Svörtuloft versus one made with yeast from Djúpalón – the vast difference between them gives you a deeper sense of the scale. Everyone assumes we add different flavours to the beers, but it’s just what happens. It’s amazing how much difference different microbes can make. And taste is one form of perception.” 

Their methods are based on culinary traditions present in most cultures throughout history, even Iceland. Kjartan explains: “To make skyr, people would use some skyr from the previous batch as a starter, keeping their culture alive. But if every last scrap of skyr got eaten, you had to get some new microbes. Waiting until summer, you would put out a few bowls of skyr base in various places around the farm and then pick the best-tasting one as the base for your future skyr.” 

“And people would have favourite skyr based on which farm it came from!” Sveinn chimes in. “Although the beers from farmland regions were some of the most challenging ones we made – flavourwise. Except for maybe the Ingjaldstún one?” he looks questioningly at Kjartan. “Well, that one was also close to some swampland. I liked it; it tasted a little bit Belgian.” 

The difference between these guys and rural Icelanders in centuries gone by is that modern science has cast a light on what’s happening behind the scenes.  As they get lost in talk about the differences between saccharomyces and brettanomyces and what makes beer taste “farmy” – the mad scientist vibe borders on uncanny. 

They agree that the most accessible beer they made happens to come from lava fields by the sea. Their experiments included visiting the locations in different seasons (more mushroom spores in the air in the fall), and they wondered if the temperature in the sun-soaked black lava affected the outcome. While collecting wild microbes is a game of chance, they also exert a considerable level of control. “Back in the day, beer was sourer, like this one, because lactic bacteria would also be present. It keeps bad bacteria at bay. Most bacteria ideal for human consumption can’t survive in low-acid conditions. It helps to make the product safe for consumption. So, we use old traditions with modern knowledge of microorganisms. We create optimal conditions for the yeasts and microbes we want to collect in our collecting liquid. The base is unfermented beer, with a little alcohol to keep mould at bay. I add a little yeast nutrient to it and a tiny amount of hops, so I don’t get too much lactic acid.” 

Letting nature do its thing through a controlled process based on old traditions and modern science – along with a whole lot of trial and error. 

That’s how you make magic.

‘We Take Food for Granted’: New Community Fridge Opens in Reykjavík

A new community fridge in Reykjavík offers free food to anyone who wants it, as well as a place to donate perishables that might otherwise go to waste. Founded by immigrants Kamila Walijewska and Marco Pizzolato, the new ‘FREEdge,’ or Frískápur in Icelandic, is located in Andrými, a radical social centre in downtown Reykjavík, and has already fostered a community of 500 people in the less than three weeks it has been operational.

Taking action locally

Before the start of the pandemic, Kamila and Marco were involved with other food sustainability and community-building events at Andrými, such as free, weekly cooking nights. Those had to stop during lockdown but have since been replaced with a free food market every Friday, which also targets food waste reduction. But with so much food still going to waste, Kamila and Marco wanted to do more. “There is not much consciousness and awareness in our society,” they explained in an interview with Iceland Review. “We take food for granted. We don’t think about the whole food chain.”

“We all have some leftovers at home or some food we realize that we do not like,” they continued. “Now there is a place to go and share it with others. Shops and restaurants have leftover food at the end of the shift which could also be saved and donated to the freedge. There will always be someone who will appreciate it.”

The name Freedge comes from an international movement of the same name, which aims to reduce food waste and insecurity through the establishment of community fridges like the one that Kamila and Marco started in Reykjavík. They got the idea during a Hackathon that they attended in the Westfjords a few months ago.

“The goal of the event was to find solutions to water, energy, or food-related problems and to help the environment in Iceland. We focused on food. During that intense weekend, we were working on a project where a chef travelled around Iceland, cooking together with locals and boosting awareness about food waste.” Kamila and Marco were inspired, but this model of awareness-raising would require more money and dedicated effort than would be sustainable in the long run. So instead, “we decided to take action locally,” they said.

A common-sense project

The freedge, located outside of Andrými. Photo courtesy of Kamila Walijewska and Marco Pizzolato

The freedge is located outside on Andrými’s property, which means that anyone can come and pick up or donate food any time they want. Kamila and Marco just ask that the house rules and residents are respected, and that people keep the freedge clean. Recent offerings have included everything from fresh fruits and vegetables (broccoli, lettuce, mangos, avocados) to chocolate and pastries and frozen French fries. The freedge is checked every other day and accepts basically all fresh produce and packaged goods, provided that the latter are unopened.

Fresh produce in the freedge. Photo courtesy of Kamila Walijewska and Marco Pizzolato
Pastries in the freedge. Photo courtesy of Kamila Walijewska and Marco Pizzolato.

“Homemade dishes are also welcome as long as they are labelled correctly (tape and pen are available) with date, donor and allergenics,” explain Kamila and Marco. “Foods that can represent a health risk if the cold chain is interrupted, like certain kinds of meat, fish, eggs or dairy are treated with suspicion and [if needed,] we inspect or remove them during our cleaning. We also check if the expiration date is ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ (there’s a big difference, and it’s very confusing for people).”

“We also feel like there is a lot of common sense behind this—it’s enough to use our senses to detect if something is either good to eat or not.”

A growing community

Although the freedge has only been operational for a few weeks, it has already been a huge success, both with members of the existing Andrými community and others. “People are messaging us, asking questions, getting involved in different ways,” say Kamila and Marco. “Word of mouth is really working. In one day, we got 200 new members on our FB group, and more are joining in every day. At the moment we have a community of over 500 people. It’s a big achievement.”

Looking ahead, Kamila and Marco believe that the project has the potential to expand considerably and are seeking to build relationships with businesses that are disposing of food that they can’t otherwise sell, but still could be eaten. “By donating their food,” they point out, these businesses “can say they are collaborating with us and therefore [foster] a better environmental image [for themselves].”

Kamila and Marco hope that more individuals will volunteer to take part in the project as it expands, helping to “pick up food from restaurants, supermarkets, or households and deliver it to the freedge.” They also hope to inspire more people to start freedges around Reykjavík and Iceland, which is, they point out, an “economically well-off country” that “has the luxury of good, healthy food available.” This “directly creates waste since the supply chain has to provide food also with margin for fluctuation of the request…Somehow more food [is] wasted because we have a tendency to buy more than we need.”

“We would like to encourage universities, offices, libraries, restaurants etc, to create their own freedges,” Kamila and Marco conclude. “We believe that in this way, we can all contribute to save food and impact our environment. It can also have a good social impact by boosting a bond within communities. We can all live healthier and happier lives.”

Find out more about the Freedge / Frískápur on Facebook, here.

Men of the Cloth

Steps above the crowded Laugavegur street, the workshop of Kormákur and Skjöldur Men’s Boutique provides a cushy haven: hefty rolls of fabric rise in piles, and fine suit jackets in various stages of completion line the walls. Sounds are dampened, but there’s plenty to see – and touch. In the middle of the room, tailors Birna Sigurjónsdóttir and Rakel Ýr Leifsdóttir share a high table. They’re making a bespoke suit for artist Ragnar Kjartansson.

Herrafataverzlun Kormáks og Skjaldar, as it is known in Icelandic, has only been dressing men in Iceland since 1996, but their timeless selection of menswear suggests a much longer tradition. Pick up any one item – a wool suit, a Barbour jacket, or a plaid accessory (there is no shortage of plaid on offer) – and the first adjective that comes to mind is “classic.” Yet the suit lying on the table in this workshop is the first fruit of a remarkably innovative project – a quest to make high-quality tweed out of Icelandic wool.

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A Delicate Craft

Ragna Sara Jónsdóttir - Fólk - íslensk framleiðsla

Iceland’s rich creative culture demonstrates that no place is too small or remote to start up a business, manage a company, or to make a difference from. But given the country’s high wages, production, and shipping costs, outsourcing abroad is frequently the only way to ensure a company’s profitable growth.

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Angela Merkel to be Guest of Honour at Meeting of Nordic Leaders

German chancellor Angela Merkel will meet with Nordic prime ministers in Reykjavík next week, Vísir reports. The international leaders plan to discuss issues related to climate, the Arctic region, equality, and security, among other things.

Angela Merkel will attend the meeting on August 20 as Icelandic prime minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir’s special guest. In addition to leaders from Scandinavia, the premiers of the Åland Islands and Greenland will also be in attendance.

Per a government announcement, the group will particularly “…look for opportunities to increase cooperation between the Nordics and Germany in addressing challenges on the international stage, not least the consequences of climate change and support for sustainable development.” Attendees will also make visits to notable places around Reykjavík, including to the Harpa concert hall, the Hellisheiði Power Station, Þingvellir, and Nobel laureate Halldór Laxness’ home, Gljúfrasteinn.

The German chancellor will also attend several bilateral meetings in conjunction with the prime ministers’ meeting. One such meeting will be held by the Nordic CEOs for a Sustainable Future, 14 Nordic companies that have announced their intention to collaborate on the EU’s sustainable development goals.

Reykjavík Ranks Third in Sustainable Destinations Worldwide

Reykjavík has come in third place on the Global Destination Sustainability, or GDS, Index, turisti.is reports. Nordic cities make up the top six spots on the Index, starting with Gothenburg, which achieved a 94% overall score, and Copenhagen, which received 90%. Reykjavík was close behind with an overall score of 89%. Oslo (86%) and Uppsala & Helsinki (84%) rounded out the top five spots.

The GDS-Index is self-described as “a collaborative business initiative” which, according to local conference organiser Meet in Reykjavík, seeks “to show potential customers the importance of sustainability at conferences and meetings held in the respective cities. The index explores the environmental policy of the cities themselves, as well as the environmental initiatives of companies that provide conference and meeting services, which in the case of Reykjavík are the members of Meet in Reykjavík (Reykjavík Convention Bureau).” The GDS-Index ranks cities based on four criteria: Environmental Performance, Social Performance, Supplier Performance, and CVB, or Convention Bureau Performance.

Reykjavík’s lowest ranking was 79%, for Social Performance. It scored highest, on the other hand, in CVB performance, which achieved a 91%. In the scoring breakdown, the Index credits this high ranking to renewable energy usage: “Given Iceland being a Pioneer in Geothermal energy with 100% of Reykjavik’s electricity and heat from renewable sources, 70% of Meet in Reykjavík employees use renewable sourced or fuel-efficient transportation. The team also recycles waste as well as sometimes spend their lunch time swimming in the North Atlantic Ocean winter and summer in Ylströndin which has received the blue flag. All profits from recycled material from the office will be donated to the Breast Cancer charity.”

Reykjavík also scored high in Supplier Performance (90%) and Environmental Performance (86%). The latter score was earned based on its aforementioned renewable energy sources, as well as the low amount of waste it sends to landfills, and how many hectares of green area it offers per 100,000 people (2,700).

“The City of Reykjavik won the Nordic Nature and Environment Prize 2014 and was awarded the Greenest city in the world by Green City Times,” writes the Index about Reykjavík’s Environmental Performance score. “The President of Iceland and the people of Iceland were presented with the first-ever Atkinson Center Award for Global Leadership in Sustainable Development for promoting the use of renewable energy while reducing its own reliance on fossil fuels…Currently there are no taxes on importation of electric cars and there is free parking in Reykjavik, resulting in substantial increase in ownership of electric cars. There has been an increase by 700% in ownership of electric cars since the first electric charger station was opened in 2014, bringing the market share of pure battery electric vehicles to 2,74%.”

This year’s ranking for Reykjavík is the same as last year, although its overall score has actually gone up. That is to say that in 2017, Reykjavík was ranked #3 on the GDS-Index, but had a lower score of 82%.

See the full Top 20 Rankings for 2018 and  country breakdown on the GDS-Index website here.