Iceland Mag

11 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag

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Locals fed up with travelers staying at Airbnbs throwing garbage in recycling bins

By Staff

  • The trouble with tourists Airbnb operators fail to teach their guests how to take out the trash: Regular household waste goes in the black/gray bins, paper and cardboard in the blue bins and plastics in the green bins. Photo/Vísir

  • Halldór Bragason Local resident fed up with sifting through other peoples garbage. Photo/GVA

Residents in downtown Reykjavík are fed up with foreign travelers staying in Airnbnb apartments failing to observe the rules on recycling, throwing their unsorted trash in recycling bins or failing to recycle their trash. The Reykjavík waste management company does not empty trash bins if they are incorrectly used, causing residents significant trouble.

Airnbnb guests not told how to take out the trash
Halldór Bragason, a musician and resident in the city center, told local news site Vísir that he had regularly re-sorted the trash in the trash bins by his house after discovering someone had left trash in the wrong bins. The waste management utility Sorpa leaves a note on trash bins if it discovers they contain the wrong type of trash, informing the homeowner the bin must be sorted before it can be emptied. Alternatively the homeowner can pay an extra surcharge to have the bins emptied. 

The municipal waste management company Sorpa confirmed that it had received numerous complaints from residents, especially in downtown Reykjavík, who complained that their trash bins hadn't been emptied because they were incorrectly filled by tourists. The company said it seemed many complaints were due to travelers, but told Vísir it could not verify these claims or the identity or nationality of the offenders.

Halldór told Vísir that the culprits are tourists who are staying at Airbnbs in nearby houses. The owners of the apartments either fail to explain to their guests how to take care of their trash, or the visitors fail to heed these rules.

"I have been forced to either pay this surcharge, or dive into the bins to sort the trash left by some tourists. I refuse to accept that it's my job to sift through the garbage left by tourists. It's utterly outrageous the residents are being fined for something these tourists do," Halldór told Vísir.

How to take out the trash?

  • In Iceland you are expected to take the household waste out in a closed bag.
  • Black/grey bin: Ordinary unsorted household waste should be put in the black bins. In some apartment buildings there is a garbage chute in the stairwell. This chute always leads to the black bins, and should be used for unsorted household waste. The trash should always be in a closed bag.
  • Green bin: Plastic items can be taken to green bins.  Alternatively you can take plastic trash to containers at neighborhood recycling stations.
  • Blue bin: Paper and cardboard can be taken to blue bins. Alternatively you can take paper or cardboard trash to containers at neighborhood recycling stations.
  • Glass is not recycled in Reykjavík and should be thrown out with regular trash.
  • Containers from soft drinks or alcoholic beverages should be taken to recycling stations. 
  • Check out this thorough guide to recycling in Reykjavík - in case you need to get rid of more unusual items or hazardous waste. 
  • A map showing all drop-off centers and recycling stations in the capital region. 

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