In many modern cities, you can bring extra bits of copper and aluminium to a scrap metal merchant, who will pay you cold hard cash for the material, no questions asked. The potential for money to be made through such exchanges, leads to an illicit trade of sorts, with cash-strapped “entrepreneurs” illegally searching for the valuable metals in places like building sites and abandoned houses, which they enter without permission. But this isn’t a problem in Iceland, because there are no scrap metal merchants. Instead, there is a waste management company, Sorpa, which will accept your metal waste—but they won’t pay you anything for it. This is why you will see things in Iceland like giant chunks of valuable copper just laying on the ground at an unsecured building site, or coils of loose wiring hanging out of an abandoned house. Only a true Samaritan would gather this material for the sole purpose of carting it to Sorpa for recycling. And as there are no true Samaritans anywhere, you’d think scrap metal merchants would have quite a customer base here, but sadly, they remain yet another thing missing in Iceland.
UPDATE: Not missing in Iceland after all! Waste management company Sorpa has informed us that two companies, in fact – Furu and Hringrás will pay for scrap metal. Bear that in mind next time you’re hurting for cash and pass by an abandoned house.