Better practices, sorting, and labelling

What sort of rubbish is this?!

On 1st of January 2023, a new law on waste, often known as “the circular law”, came into effect. The new law introduces positive changes in the way we treat waste by promoting increased thrift, reuse and recycling with the goal of supporting the formation a circular economy in Iceland and decreasing the emission of greenhouse gases.

Waste sorting symbols of municipal waste

Food waste


Plastic packaging

Mixed waste


Metal packaging


Hazardous waste

The Seven Categories of Waste

In households and workplaces, waste should be sorted into paper, plastics, food waste and mixed waste. Textiles, metals, glass and hazardous materials must be collected in other ways, for example at local stations. Landfilling or incinerating sorted waste will be prohibited, as the goal is to reuse the waste or recycle it.

Municipalities are responsible for implementing the new way of sorting and collecting waste. Check how the implementation is going within your municipality!

The Common Waste Sorting Symbols

Finally in 2023, what everyone has been waiting for – the same labelling countrywide on waste containers and bins! 

The conditions for sorting  waste should be simple and efficient. The use of specific sorting symbols for waste containers and bins has been legalised and The Common Waste Sorting Symbols, translated and localised by FENÚR, will be used on all bins and at recycling stations. The symbols can also be seen on many products, which shows in a simple way how to sort packaging waste.

You will find more about The Common Waste Sorting Symbols in English on EUPicto’s website.

Pay as You Throw

With these legal changes, the municipalities are obligated to charge waste management fees that are as close to actual cost as possible. Municipalities need to move from using a system that charges one fixed fee for each household to a collection system that adapts to the amount and type of waste each and everyone produces.

The municipalities will collect fees according to a usage-pricing system known as Pay as you throw, where you will pay different fees for each waste category and pay less if you throw less waste away. The system is based on „the polluter-pays principle“.

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