Q&A on Waste Collection

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Do you have any questions about waste collection, sorting, or recycling?

General

When are bins emptied in my area?

Here you can see the Waste Collection Calendar showing the estimated emptying dates.

Why are the bins not free?

The City of Reykjavik is required by law to collect a fee for the collection of household waste and the operation of drop-off centers and recycling centers. The fee amount is set out in schedule of Reykjavik City’s waste management fees.

The City of Reykjavik has decided to let residents choose the level of service that is right for them and to pay for the service accordingly. The fees are charged along with property tax, and in Reykjavik they are based on the number of bins, container size, collection rate, distance to unload the container, and the type of waste—and the fees change the same week a request to change the bins is received.

In many municipalities, residents pay a single fee for waste management, regardless of the type of service and type of waste. There is a cost to waste collection and waste handling, and the cost of, for instance, the recycling bin, is included in the total charge. Reykjavik residents can often lower their fees for waste management.

In households where there is little mixed waste, residents of a single family home can request a thrifty bin that is cheaper and half the size of the gray bin. The thrifty bin is emptied every 10 days until the end of the year but as of 2016 mixed waste will be collected every 14 days on average, as in other municipalities in the capital area.

Residents can also choose whether to use the services of a drop-off center or recycling center, or whether they prefer recyclable waste to be collected at their homes. That is a paid service. Residents of multi-family dwellings can reconsider the number of gray bins and have fewer bins if warranted, thus paying lower fees. In many cases, multi-family housing can reduce the number of gray bins when the bins are shared, leaving room for green and blue bins for recycling.

There is a special fee for containers that have to be hauled more than 15 meters from where they are stored to the waste collection vehicle as noted in the schedule of Reykjavik City’s waste management fees. In some cases, you can move the bin to avoid paying that fee. Use the calculator to view the fees based on the number and type of containers.

Is there anything I can do to reduce the waste disposal fee?

Yes, you can.

In single-family housing, it is most effective to sort more and dispose of less. If you have a small amount of mixed household waste, you can get a smaller bin, a thrifty bin, instead of the gray bin. The thrifty bin is both smaller and cheaper.

If you live in multi-family housing, it would be advisable to reconsider the number of gray bins and have fewer if possible. You can possibly add green or blue bind for recycling material.

What am I supposed to do with remains of fireworks?

Residents are encouraged to clean up firework remains in their immediate surroundings after New Year's Eve, as remains of rocket fireworks, cake fireworks, and other types fireworks are left around the City. After January 13, district depot employees go around for a few days collecting firework waste in the City’s open spaces, but they don't enter residential streets or private gardens.

It is important for everyone to work together and for residents to clean up any traces of fireworks in their immediate surroundings. It is recommended that people return the collected material to the recycling centers of SORPA bs. or to collection containers where fireworks are sold—and not in household waste bins.

What should I do with the excess waste that doesn't fit in the bins?

Residents can pick up labeled bags for excess mixed waste. The bags are left by the bins and will be removed during the next waste collection. They are available at the nearest N1 station in Reykjavík or at the Reykjavik City Customer Service, Borgartun 12–14. Excess waste can also be taken to drop-off center or recycling center.

When using bags for, place it next to the household waste container to have it collected. The bag is intended exclusively for household mixed waste. Just as gray bins are intended for mixed household waste, the bags are not to be used for hazardous waste, paper or cardboard, returnable packaging, electronics, timber, scrap metal, and other coarse waste, garden waste, plaster battering, minerals, or gravel. Such waste is to be returned to the recycling centers of SORPA bs. 

Is there monitoring of what is put in the bins?

It is important for waste to go in the correct bins. Where residents are required to sort waste, instead of requiring residents to have a bin at their home for recyclable waste, there will be monitoring of the sorting of certain categories of waste, such as paper and cardboard.

For a number of years, throwing certain types of waste in the gray bins has been forbidden, for example refundable beverage containers, garden waste, soil, toxic waste, and scrap metal. When unloading gray bins and thrifty bins, city officials have monitored whether the bins contain these types of waste, same as is currently the case with paper and cardboard and other types of waste that are not to be included with mixed waste. The procedures will be the same as before, the bins will not be shuffled through, but if it is obvious that residents are not sorting paper from the mixed waste, the gray bin will not be emptied and a note with instructions will be left behind.

The same applies when emptying green and blue bins. Other waste materials, such as food or chemical residues, than can be thrown into the bins significantly lowers the recycling possibilities of the recycling materials. Therefore, bins with incorrect sorting will not be emptied and a note with instructions will be left behind.

Am I responsible if my neighbor does not sort waste in a multi-owner building?

Act No 26/1994 on Multi-Owner Buildings addresses owners’ rights and obligations in these buildings. Waste storage is generally in the common property of multi-owner buildings, and all owners share responsibility in solidum for the shared space according to Article 57 of the Act.

The homeowners’ association and the owners are liable for the common costs according to Articles 43 and 47 and are therefore liable for costs incurred for incorrectly sorted waste. If it is proven that one owner is causing costs to the homeowners’ association by not sorting the waste, the homeowners’ association can reclaim the expense according to the general right of requisition.

The homeowners’ association may also set house rules that cover the sorting of waste cf. Article 41(C)(1) and Article 74 of the Act, in particular 74(3)(1). If it is proven that one owner repeatedly fails to comply with the rules, the homeowners’ association may impose a ban on the owner’s right to reside or stay in the building, cf Article 55(1) of the Act but care must be taken to provide the owner with the opportunity to improve, pursuant to subsection 2 of the same Article.

The opinion of the Housing Complaints Committee can be obtained pursuant to section 80 of the Act on the dispute between co-owners regarding the interpretation of the Act and/or the case can be taken to court pursuant to section 80(6) of the Act to seek a final conclusion on the dispute.

What do I do if I want to move the waste storage?

Lot holders need to apply for a building permit from the Building Commissioner for the changes if they want to move their waste storage. The Department of Environmen & Planning will provide residents with any additional information and will be available for guidance and advice regarding the relocation of waste storage when possible by phone at 411 1111 and email at byggingarfulltrui@reykjavik.is.

How do I know how many waste containers to have at my home?

Residents must have access to a bin for mixed waste at their home, i.e. either a gray bin or a thrifty bin. There is no general rule on the number of bins per apartment, so residents can decide how many to have and that affects the cost. The need depends on the family size and number of inhabitants, consumption habits, and how good people are at sorting. On average, there are about 0.8 gray bins at each apartment in Reykjavik. Accordingly, four apartments should be able to have three gray bins together for mixed waste in multi-family housing, and even fewer bins if people sort paper and plastic and compost kitchen waste.

It is not mandatory to have a blue or green bin for recycling material. The City of Reykjavik has decided to let residents choose the level of service that is right for them and to pay for the service accordingly. Residents can also choose whether to use the services of a drop-off center or recycling center, or whether they prefer recyclable waste to be collected at their homes.

If you consider recyclable paper and plastics that are generally used in households and can be sorted out, one gray bin can be replaced by one or two blue or green bins in multi-family housing, depending on how effectively the bins are used. For private residences, in most cases a thrifty bin, one blue bin, and one green bin should be enough. The thrifty bin is for mixed waste as is the gray bin, but it is cheaper and half the size of the gray bin.

Additional waste collection

If a container cannot be emptied due to obstacles, incorrect sorting, or other reasons, residents may request an additional waste collection. The services are paid for according to the Fee Schedule on Waste Management.

The fee must also be paid when adding a new service, adding new containers, or when increasing the waste collection frequency. It costs nothing to reduce the number of containers.

What happens to glass?

From an environmental point of view, it pays to sort, collect, export, and recycle glass from Iceland.  It is estimated that in 2014, more than one thousand tons of glass and minerals were generated by households in Reykjavik and ending up in landfills for mixed household waste in Alfsnes. The waste collection was about 5% of all mixed household waste according to an analysis conducted by SORPA bs. in November 2014. Glass has been collected with minerals at six recycling centers in the capital area, and used as a carrier layer that is considered as reuse. 

The aim is twofold: to reduce the share of glass in household mixed waste by making it easier for residents to return glass, and to reconsider the assumptions of recycling the glass instead of reusing it as a carrier layer. Any type of household glass can be returned to these containers, such as jelly jars, return-free glass bottles, and other containers made of glass. The glass can be either clear or colored, but it must be clean and containers empty. Cooperation has already been sought with SORPA bs. and the Processing Fund (I. “Úrvinnslusjóður” to review the prerequisites for recycling the glass collected.

Waste Land-Fill

The mixed waste is minced at the recycling center of SORPU bs. in Gufunes, sent through metal separators, and finally bagged and transported to Alfsnes for landfill. Alfsnes is the largest waste landfill site in the country, with approximately 104,000 tonnes of landfill in 2013. It also possible the return polluting waste such as asbestos, contaminated waste, and animal carcasses.

SORPA bs. operates the Alfsnes Landfill Site, which is defined as Industrial Area I5 in the new Municipal Plan until 2030. Industrial Zone I5 also includes an area to the west of the planned Sundabraut, which is intended for a gas and composting facility. The Municipal Plan thus provides general permits for the management of waste in Alfsnes until 2030.

The vehicle fuel methane has been produces in Alfsnes since 1999 from landfill gas which arises from the decomposition of organic waste in the landfill. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, or up to 21 times more powerful than carbon dioxide if it is allowed to evaporate from unhindered from the landfill site. By collecting the landfill gas, purifying it, and using it as automotive fuel, instead of imported fossil fuels, the greenhouse effect of the landfill site is minimal.

With the agreement of the owners of SORPA bs. on October 25, 2013, a gas and composting facility was made permanent in Alfsnes.

Green Bin

What Can Go in the Green Bin?

Only clean plastic goes into the green bin, both soft and hard plastics. Soft plastics include plastic bags, plastic film, and bubble wrap. Hard plastics are used to form plastic trays and other plastic containers of various kinds for cleaning products and food products, as well as foam plastic and smaller parts made of plastic.

It is important to clean all food and chemical residue from the plastics and reduce the volume as much as possible before placing it in the bin. Care should be taken to ensure that metals, electrical appliances, batteries, hazardous waste, paper materials, and other waste materials do not go into the green bin. That lowers the recycling value of the plastic by a large amount.

Good sorting is a prerequisite for recycling.

Do I need to order a green bin?

Residents who choose to have recyclable plastics collected must order a green bin.

In Reykjavik, residents choose the most appropriate way to get rid of sorted recyclables. Some residents prefer to return sorted recyclables to drop-off centers or recycling centers, as they are close by or along their way, rather than having an additional bin at the home.

How much does the green bin cost?

For information on the price of a green bin, please refer to the Waste Collection Fees.

The fees are charged along with property tax, and in Reykjavik they are based on the number of bins, container size, collection rate, distance to unload the container, and the type of waste—and the fees change the same week a request to change the bins is received.

How many times a month are the green bins emptied?

Green bins are usually emptied every 21 days.

In the Waste Collection Calendar, you can see when the waste will be collected. Please note that the calendar is organized by City district.

How is plastic collection organized for households?

Residents must request a green bin for plastic at their home. The green bin is delivered free of charge.

The green bin is usually emptied every three weeks or 21 days. Note that the collection is usually done with split vehicles so that two types of waste are collected at once.

Plastics account for about 20% of mixed waste that goes in the gray bins and thrifty bins (and the volumgray barrels and sparse barrels, and half as much volume, so it is foreseen that the amount in the gray barrel may be reduced. In households where there is little mixed waste, for instance due to sorting, residents of a single family home can request a thrifty bin that is cheaper and half the size of the gray bin. Residents of multi-family dwellings can reconsider the number of gray bins and have fewer bins if warranted, thus paying lower fees.

The City of Reykjavik has decided to let residents choose the level of service that is right for them and to pay for the service accordingly. Residents can therefore choose whether to use the services of a drop-off center or recycling center, or whether they prefer recyclable waste to be collected at their homes.

At the top of the page you can find a calendar for waste collection at homes in Reykjavik.

What happens if green bins have incorrectly sorted waste?

If incorrectly sorted waste ends up in the green bin, it cannot be emptied as foreign substances can destroy the recyclables already in the waste collection vehicle. The incorrectly sorted material must be removed from the bin before it can be emptied. If you need it to be emptied before then, you must do one of the following:

  1. Contact the City of Reykjavik and request an additional waste-collection pick-up to be paid for according to the fee schedule
  2. Take the plastic from the bin to the nearest drop-off center or recycling center. View the map of collection points in the waste collection calendar.

Why is plastics not trash?

Sorting and returning plastics for recycling increases recycling of plastics and reduces the amount of waste in landfills. It is important to prevent plastic waste from ending in landfills from an environmental point of view, as that means we are wasting resources that would otherwise have been used. It also costs more to treat unsorted mixed waste than sorted plastic materials, so the green bin is cheaper than the gray bin.

SORPA bs. bags plastics that are returned for recycling in their collection and sorting center in Gufunes. The plastic materials are sent to Sweden, where the material is either recycled or incinerated for energy production. A large proportion of plastics can be recycled and incineration for energy production is a more optimal alternative to landfills in cases where recycling is not feasible for some reason. Sorting and return for recycling is the basis for this to be possible.

Plastics are one of the most common materials in our environment and their use is constantly increasing. Its share was 20% in mixed waste according to an analysis done by SORPA bs. in 2014, amounting to the second largest category after organic waste. A total of 18,085 tonnes of mixed household waste was generated in 2014, so an estimated 3,617 tonnes of plastic is expected to have gone to landfill in Alfsnes that year. Some 1,700 tonnes or more of plastic can be expected to be returned for recycling in Reykjavik, if comparable results are achieved as with the sorting of paper materials.

What can I do with the plastic?

Clean recyclable plastics can be disposed of as follows:

  1. Reykjavik green bins
    It must be ordered, and residents can usually start sorting for it as soon as it has been delivered.
  2. Recycling center
    There are six such stations in the capital area and they also accept many other types of recyclables. Click here to open a map and information about recycling centers.
  3. Drop-off center
    There are 57 such stations within Reykjavik where, in addition to paper and cardboard, you can return plastic and, in some cases, returnable packaging and clothes. Click here to access a map of drop-off centers

Blue Bin

What can go in the blue bin?

 

In the blue bin you can put five categories of paper and cardboard. They are:

  • Corrugated cardboard, such as pizza boxes, shoe boxes, and other cardboard boxes. Corrugated cardboard is recognizable because, when it is torn, you can see that it is double-walled with corrugated cardboard in the middle.
  • Newspapers, magazines, and advertising mailings. Everything that comes in through the letter hatch. Also books. Adhesive stripes and the transparent plastic may be thrown away with the envelopes, you don’t have to tear it off.
  • Cartons, such as for milk, fruit juice, and cream. The plastic topo, often used on cartons to simplify their use and protect the contents, may be left on the cartons. Alumnium and plastic films inside the carton does not reduce their recyclability.
  • Office paper. Both colored and white photocopy and printer paper.
  • Packaging paper and cardboard such as cereal boxes, egg trays, and biscuit packs. Gift-wrapping paper can also go into the blue bin.

The recycling value of paper materials depends on their purity. It is important to clean any food leftovers from the packaging and soiled kitchen paper and napkins should be placed in the gray bin or sorted for composting. Disposable diapers should go in the gray bin with the mixed waste.

Material placed in the blue bin should be placed loose in the bin. Do not put the material in plastic bags.

Good sorting is a prerequisite for recycling.

 

Do I need to order a blue bin?

Residents who choose to have paper and cardboard collected must order the blue bin.

In Reykjavik, residents choose the most appropriate way to get rid of sorted recyclables. Some residents prefer to return sorted recyclables to drop-off centers or recycling centers, as they are close by or along their way, rather than having an additional bin at the home.

How Much Does the Blue Bin Cost?

For information on the price of a blue bin, please refer to the Waste Collection Fees.

The fees are charged along with property tax, and in Reykjavik they are based on the number of bins, container size, collection rate, distance to unload the container, and the type of waste—and the fees change the same week a request to change the bins is received.

How many times a month are the blue bins emptied?

Blue bins are usually emptied every 21 days.

In the Waste Collection Calendar, you can see when the waste will be collected. Please note that the calendar is organized by City district.

How is paper collection organized for households?

Residents must request a blue bin for paper and cardboard at their home. The blue bin is delivered free of charge.

The bin is usually emptied every three weeks or 21 days. Note that the collection is usually done with split vehicles so that two types of waste are collected at once.

In households where there is little mixed waste, for instance due to sorting, residents of a single family home can request a thrifty bin that is cheaper and half the size of the gray bin. Residents of multi-family dwellings can reconsider the number of gray bins and have fewer bins if warranted, thus paying lower fees.

The City of Reykjavik has decided to let residents choose the level of service that is right for them and to pay for the service accordingly. Residents can therefore choose whether to use the services of a drop-off center or recycling center, or whether they prefer recyclable waste to be collected at their homes.

At the top of the page you can find a calendar for waste collection at homes in Reykjavik.

What happens if blue bins have incorrectly sorted waste?

Waste that does not belong in the blue bin can destroy recyclables that are already in the waste collection vehicle. Before the bin can be emptied, you need to remove the misclassified waste. The bin will then be emptied on the next collection day, after more than three weeks. If the bin needs to be emptied before then, you can:

  1. Contact the City of Reykjavik and request an additional waste-collection pick-up to be paid for according to the Waste Collection Fees.
  2. Bring the paper from the bin to the nearest drop-off center or recycling center.

 

Why is paper not trash?

The sorting and recycling of paper has environmental benefits and is more economical than placing it in gray bins and burrying it in the landfill in Alfsnes. Paper is a resource that can be used for various things if it is sorted and returned for recycling.

Paper returned for recycling is mechanically sorted at the collection and sorting center of SORPA in Gufunes, where corrugated cardboard is separated from non-corrugated cardboard and paper. The material is pressed and bagged and then transported to Sweden for further sorting and recycling. The recycled paper and cardboard is used, as an example, to manufacture toilet paper, kitchen towels, newspaper paper, and carton used to make new packaging. The recycled corrugated cardboard is used to produce new corrugated cardboard.

What Happens to the Paper?

Paper is a resource that can be used for various things if it is sorted and returned for recycling. The sorting and recycling of paper and cardboard has environmental benefits and is more economical than placing it in gray bins and burrying it in the landfill in Alfsnes. That is why the blue bin is cheaper than the gray one.

Paper material returned for recycling is mechanically sorted at the collection and sorting center of SORPA bs. In Gufunes, where corrugated cardboard is separated from non-corrugated cardboard and paper. The material is pressed and bagged and then transported to Sweden for further sorting and recycling. The recycled paper and cardboard is used, as an example, to manufacture toilet paper, kitchen towels, newspaper paper, and carton used to make new packaging. The recycled corrugated cardboard is used to produce new corrugated cardboard.

What can I do with the paper?

Paper and cardboard can be disposed of at the following locations:

  1. Reykjavik blue bins
    It must be ordered, and residents can usually start sorting for it as soon as it has been delivered.
  2. Recycling center
    There are six such stations in the capital area and they also accept many other types of recyclables.
    Click here to open a map and information about recycling centers.
  3. Drop-off center
    There are 57 such stations within Reykjavik where, in addition to paper and cardboard, you can return plastic and, in some cases, returnable packaging and clothes.
    Click here to access a map of drop-off centers

Grey Bin and Thrifty Bin

What can go in the gray bin and thrifty bin?

Gray bins (including the thrifty bin) are for mixed household waste. Mixed household waste:

  • Food leftovers
  • Food contaminated packaging
  • Composite packaging
  • Vacuum cleaner bags
  • Disposable diapers

Loose metals may also be deposited in the gray bin:

  • Food cans
  • Tealight candles
  • Aluminum trays and lids

Note that these may also be returned to recycling centers, in which case a higher percentage is recycled.

What cannot go in the gray bin:

  • Recyclable paper or cardboard
  • Textiles
  • Refundable beverage containers
  • Garden waste
  • Masonry fragmentation
  • Minerals
  • Coarse waste, such as timber and scrap metals
  • Electrical equipment
  • Batteries
  • Toxic waste
  • Medicines

Do I need to order a gray bin or a thrifty bin?

Residents must have access to a bin for mixed waste at their home.

The gray bin is used for mixed waste with a capacity of 240 liters but note that for households with a little mixed waste residents of single-family housing may request a 120 liter thrifty bin that is cheaper than a gray bin.

Residents of multi-family housing may request 660 liter container if conditions permit.

How much does the gray bin cost?

For information on the price of gray bins and thrifty bins, please refer to the Waste Collection Fees.

The fees are charged along with property tax, and in Reykjavik they are based on the number of bins, container size, collection rate, distance to unload the container, and the type of waste—and the fees change the same week a request to change the bins is received.

How many times a month are gray bins and thrifty bins emptied?

Gray bins and thrifty bins are generally emptied every 14 days.

In the Waste Collection Calendar, you can see when the waste will be collected. Please note that the calendar is organized by City district.

What happens if the wrong product is sorted into a gray bin or a thrifty bin?

If the waste is incorrectly sorted in the gray bin, it is not emptied. Before the bin can be emptied, you need to remove the misclassified waste. The bin will then be emptied on the next collection day, after more than two weeks. If the bin needs to be emptied before then, you can:

  1. Contact the City of Reykjavik and request an additional waste-collection pick-up to be paid for according to the Waste Collection Fees.
  2. Bring the misclassified waste from the bin to the nearest drop-off center or recycling center.

Operators

Does the City of Reykjavik collect waste from businesses?

Business operators must take care collecting and handling any waste they generate. The City of Reykjavik is responsible for waste collection within city limits and for ensuring that infrastructure is in place to ensure proper waste management. Business operators are free to negotiate with private operators to collect and sort any waste generated by their operations.

SORPA bs. accepts sorted waste from private operators at collection centers, but the private operators are free to choose the means they prefer for recyclables. Private operators that collect mixed waste from businesses are responsible for bagging and packing the waste before returning it to the landfill site in Alfsnes.

Can I get a barrel for recyclables at my workplace?

The City's blue and green bins are only available for homes in Reykjavik, and are not available for businesses and institutions. These entities can return sorted waste to recycling centers. Business operators do not pay for the return of recyclables, but they pay for returning mixed waste and other waste categories according to the fee schedule of SORPA bs.

A number of service providers also provide bins for recyclables and take care of their transportation for institutions and companies across the country.

Any other questions?

Contact Us: sorphirda@reykjavik.is

Phone Number: 411 1111