New waste sorting system

A new waste sorting system has been implemented in the capital area and at Suðurnes, where four waste categories are collected at each household. This is a big step in environmental and climate matters, but the biggest change for residents is that households will get a basket for food scraps along with bins for paper and plastic.

Smart neighborhood containers

Next weeks, we will be upgrading neighborhood stations and all containers will be equipped with smart sensors to ensure timely discharge and prevent full containers.

Stations will now be divided into two categories:

Small neighborhood stations

They accept glass, metal packaging and returnable bottles and cans. These stations are in many cases a new addition and will be in the immediate vicinity of everyone in urban areas.


Large neighborhood stations

We accept paper and cardboard, plastic packaging, glass, metal packaging, textiles and returnable bottles and cans. These stations will be accessible to residents in most neighborhoods so that residents can get rid of plastic, paper and cardboard that falls irregularly, such as e.g. at Christmas


It is estimated that the change and implementation of smart containers at neighborhood stations will take place in the coming weeks:

Kópavogur, Garðabær, Mosfellsbær weeks 5-6

Hafnarfjörður weeks 7

Reykjavík weeks 8-10

Click here to see which local station is closest to you and which classes are on it.

Four waste categories per household

Paper and cardboard
Plastic packaging
Food scraps
Mixed waste

Efforts will be made to minimize number of waste bins

Bins will be replaced when implementation begins and the muncipailities and effort will be made to minimize the number of bins. However, increasing the number of bins at private residences may require changes to the waste storage or on the site.

All households will receive a basket and a paper bag for food scraps

Now food scraps are sorted separately, whereas before they went together with mixed waste. Leftovers are collected in paper bags that are available at SORPA recycling centers and at Góði hirðirinn.

Collecting food scraps or organic waste is a big step towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions. From organic waste we can produce methane gas and compost or soil improver. Methane gas is used, among other things, as vehicle fuel and compost is used for land reclamation

The basket under the paper bags fits easily into most kitchen cabinets.

These bags have been successfuly used in the Nordic countries and are crucial in making usable compost from food scraps. With the bags, residents get a basket to collect food scraps at home. But the basket ensures that there is air around the bag, which prevents possible leakage.


The principle is three waste bins for single detached houses

Residents don´t have to any plans for these change, other than to adopt to the new sorting system. Most detached houses will receive one new bin, divided into two chambers, one for food scraps and the other for mixed waste.

Existing bins will be relabeled for paper and plastic. If a household only has one bin, a split bin and a traditional bin are added, for a total of three bins.*

You can can see possible scenario in the attached picture

* For special solutions, such as more or fewer bins, residents should contact their municipality after distribution of waste bins is completed. It should be kept in mind that all households must be sort all household waste into four categories, regardless of the number of waste bins.

Split bin for food scraps and mixed waste, plastic bin, and paper bin

Arrangement for apartment buildings

There will be different arrangements for various apartment buildings, depending on how many inhabitants live in the building.

The main goal is to limit the number of bins as possible, but first and foremost to keep the number of bins unchanged.

Here you can see the possible versions of bins in the picture below; either four bins or larger trash containers with bins.

What do I need to sort

Food scraps

In the food scrap bin we throw f.e:

  • Eggshells
  • Food scraps including bones
  • Coffee
  • Fish leftovers

Plastic packaging

In the plastic bin we throw f.e:

  • Plastic from food packages
  • Plastic film
  • Plastic bags
  • Shampoo containers

Paper and cardboard

In the paper bin we throw f.e:

  • Newspapers
  • Paper bags
  • Pizza boxes
  • Paper wraps

Mixed waste

In the bin for mixed waste we throw f.e:

  • Sanitary towels
  • Wet wipes
  • Dipers
  • Vacuum bags

Glass and metal packaging collected in nearby neighborhood containers.

In addition to the four-tier sorting system at homes, the number of neighbourhood containers will be increased.

  • Glass, metals, textiles, bottles and cans will be collected at nearby neighbourhood container stations that will be located about 500 meters from each home.
  • Larger neighbourhood stations will be about a kilometer away from each home, and there will be added containers for paper and cardboard, and plastic.


Questions and answers

Questions and answers about the new sorting system

  • Why are these changes being implemented?

    The public has long called for separate collection of organic waste and coordination of the sorting system for households in the capital area. This includes better services for residents in the entire metropolitan area - one system, same rules. Today, there are different sorting systems between municipalities.

    The new system is based on laws that came into force in 2023 and will include better waste management.

  • What do these changes mean for the environment?

    This new system will allow us to sort and recycvle waste as it is is vital to keep resources within the circular economy. The better we sort our waste, the more likely it is that it can be recycled.

  • What should I do with metals and glass?

    Everyone has to recycle these metal and glass and deliver it to neighbourhood container terminals, which will be located at intervals of about 500 meters from most households throughout the capital area.

  • Will there be a change in neighborhood containers?

    Glass, metals, textiles and cans and bottles will be collected at local neighborhood countainers that will be located within 500 meters of each home.

    Larger neighborhood containers will be less than a kilometer away from each home, and there will be added containers for paper, cardboard, and plastic.

Questions and answers about new waste bins

  • How often will the bins be emptied?

    The emptying of barrels will in most cases increase. For more information, you can contact your municipality.

  • Can I change the arrangement of my bins?

    We will try to make the changes as comfortable and to fit in the existing area so that residents feel as little as possible. Residents will be advised to try the new arrangement for a few weeks. If it is not suitable, you can contact your municipality to check what options are available in the situation.

  • How will the bins be marked?

    All bins will be marked with new markings in accordance with the rules of Fenúr (Professional council on reuse and waste). The markings are based on a standardized Nordic marking system.

  • What will be done where there are deep containers?

    Deep containers have different arrangements. You can contact your municipality to get more information about deep containers.

  • What type of bins will there be?

    Bins for four categories will be placed next to all residential buildings. The main goal is to increase the number of bins for residents as little as possible, and in most cases efforts will be made to place bins in the space that is already available near residential buildings. In the new system, as a general rule, there will be three bins at private detached houses, but in apartment buildings, the implementation depends on the conditions in each place. More details in each municipality will be announced later. 

  • When will the waste bins arrive?

    The implementation will start in latter part of May 2023

    A more detailed schedule will come later, but implementation is in the hands of each municipality.

  • How much space will dual bins take up?

    The double bins are the same size as the traditional 240 liter waste bins. The only change is that they have two separate chambers.

  • Will there be dual- bins in apartment building as well?

    No, in general, it can be assumed that dual part bins will not be the waste storage facilities of apartment buildings. Barrel assembly in apartment buildings can be done in various ways depending on the conditions in each place.

  • I need to make a new shelter for my waste bins at my house. What do I need to keep in mind?

    It is best to contact the municipality where you live for more information. But in general, it is best to place the waste bin shelters as close to the street as possible.

  • Are new waste cars needed to empty dual bins?

    Cars with two compartments will be used to empty dual bins.

Questions and answers about collecting food scraps

  • How do I collect leftovers and what bag should I use?

    Food scraps will be collected in paper bags that break down easily and do not get stuck in process. Paper bags are available at Sorpa recycling centers and Góði Hirðirinn. The municipalities do provide residents with baskets for paper bags to collect food scraps at home.

  • Do I need a bin for food scraps if I have a home composter?

    Yes, it will be mandatory for all households to have four categories for waste. In addition, there are many organic products that are produced in the kitchen that are not suitable for home composting.

  • Will the paper bags not leak?

    The collection of kitchen waste partly calls for changing habits. Among other things, they will include making sure that wet food scraps are not throwninto the paper bag and that they are regularly taken out and thrown into the bin. If very wet leftovers go into the bags, kitchen paper can be placed in the bottom of the bags.

  • How big are the baskets for leftovers?

    The baskets or containers for food scraps that end up inside homes measure 247mm x 197mm x 280mm (L x W x H).

  • Why do you need to sort food scraps?

    Collecting food scraps or organic waste is a big step towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Organic waste collected at home is converted to methane gas and compost or soil improver. Methane gas is used, among other things, as vehicle fuel and compost is used for land reclamation.

    According to the law that came into effect 2023, the landfilling of organic waste must stop.

  • Won't leftovers smell bad in the bin?

    If there is no stench coming from the general bin now, then the food scrape bin will not smell after the changes. The composition of the waste will not change, but the waste will just be in separate bins and not mixed as before.

When will I get bins?

Want to know more?

For more information about the new waste sorting system, you can contact your municipality: