Waste Handling in Sólheimar
Every day, a lot of stuff finds its way out of homes and into trash barrels outside. Over the last decade, our society has changed and waste levels have increased, translating into more money being spent on waste management and landfills. Meanwhile, a lot of trash can be reused and it can therefore be said that waste has inherent value as a resource in itself. Each year, Icelanders turn out an average of 345 kg of household waste. By sorting and recycling waste, the amounts going to the landfills can be reduced, saving money and easing the stress placed on nature. This page discusses the garbage classifications and recycling of waste in Solheimar. In light of the sorting options in Solheimar, 60% of the household waste in the village can be reused. Solheimar is constantly seeking new ways to increase its reuse and recycling to take more social responsibility, protect the environment and save money in the process.
Recycling and reuse
The sorting and recycling of waste requires planning, both at home and in the processing places. However, sorting at home needs to be consistent with the requirements of and services available from the local municipality. To minimize the cost of waste transportation, Solheimar seeks to reuse and recycle as much waste as possible locally. The sorting system of the village is collorcoded and includes the following options;
• All types of plastic wrappings and containers (e.g. yoghurt cans, shampoo bottles, candy wraps, plastic foil,…) are collected in a green bin. The garbage is then brought to a recycling station where it gets seperated into 7 different categories of plastic and recycled.
• All paper and cardboard (magazines, newspaper, office paper, cornflakes boxes,…) is collected in a blue bin. This waste goes to the worm composting installation in Solheimar to be turned into valuable compost. Big corrugated cardboard boxes are saved and reused.
• Milk and juice cartons are collected seperately in a yellow bin because they contain plastic and aluminium. They go to a recycling station.
• Drinking bottles – both glass (wine bottles), plastic (soda bottles) and metal (soda cans) – are collected in a red bin. They are counted and brought to a collection point to get back the deposit money. Every bottle is worth 14 ISK, and this money is used to fund the scouting organisation in Solheimar.
• Other types of metal (food containers, aluminium foil, nails,…) are collected in a grey bin and brought to a recycling centre. These metals are very valuable because world supplies of Aluminium are running low.
• Glass containers other than wine bottles are collected in the white bin. They stay in Solheimar to be used as landfill material when building new roads.
• Clothes, batteries, light bulbs and harmful or toxic materials are brought to the shop Vala.
• Organic food waste from Solheimar’s homes and cafeteria are collected in a degradable biobag made of corn starch. When the bags are full, they are closed and placed in so-called Biohouses, locked containers outside each building where they are gathered regularly. The food wastes are used to feed a composting machine and a worm compost installation. The compost is used in the organic forestry and greenhouses.
Recycling exhibit in Sesseljuhus 2013
Advantages of composting
• Organic matter and nutrients are not lost, but rather used in a natural fertilizer
• Pollution is saved from transporting, incinerating or placing into landfill the organic wastes
• With less waste for municipal handling, charges will decrease
• Every person has the opportunity and personal responsibility to do something for the environment
• Increase understanding of the natural cycle of organic matter, especially in children
Compost machine in Sólheimar
Unfortunately, many people do not think about their trash output because, as the common saying goes, ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ the trash is hauled away somewhere and seems to disappear, but it is really dumped elsewhere on our shared planet. To minimize this contamination, we must minimize our trash output. But is this possible? Yes, through responsible production methods, environmentally-conscious consumerism, waste sorting and recycling. The responsibility of the consumer is to say “no thanks” to wasteful packaging that quickly ends up in the trash.
Want to know more?
A few websites of Icelandic companies and institutions are listed below and include information about waste handling and general information on environmental issues.
• Environment: www.ust.is
• Garbage: www.sorpa.is
• Southern Iceland Garbage Station: www.sorpstodsudurlands.is
• Reykjavik City Environmental Network: www.umhverfisvefurinn.is
• Recycling: www.endurvinnslan.is