From Iceland — 18-Month Supply Of Organic Waste Bags Depleted In Months

18-Month Supply Of Organic Waste Bags Depleted In Months

Published January 11, 2024

Photo by

Maybe it’s a sign of the poor planning around Reykjavík’s revamped waste management system, or maybe the city is replete with greedy greedy hoarders, but an 18-month supply of paper bags provided for residents to dispose of organic household waste is already gone — just seven months after their rollout, RÚV reports.

Capital area residents have run through 24 million bags. As a reminder, the population of Reykjavík is just shy of 140,000.

Jón Viggó Gunnarsson, the managing director of Sorpa recycling centres, says the rollout of the free bags were made in accordance with models from Scandinavia. He says they went awry when it became clear how many people were hoarding bags. Many households are assumed to have several years worth of the bags hoarded in their homes, with 10% of homes having a stock of roughly 800 bags each.

“But those are not necessarily the biggest examples,” Sorpa head of communications Gunnar Dofri Ólafsson told RÚV. “We’ve seen pictures of bag piles in people’s homes, which we figure is around 7,000 bags. It will be enough for half a century.”

Each household was supplied with a starter pack of paper bags and an unsightly plastic holder over the summer. Free refill packs of the paper bags were then available at select grocery stores to encourage uptake of the new system. It was made clear from the start that the bags would only be free for a limited time.

Jón Viggó says bags will be available again — but no longer for free — at grocery stores in February. They will continue to be available free of charge at Sorpa recycling centres — an arrangement that greatly benefits those with cars.

Support The Reykjavík Grapevine!
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!

Show Me More!