A different kind of direct use of geothermal – plastic recycling in Iceland

A different kind of direct use of geothermal – plastic recycling in Iceland Plastic recycling with geothermal of Pure North, Iceland (source: screenshot/
Alexander Richter 14 Jan 2020

An Icelandic company is starting to use geothermal energy in its process of recycling plastic material in Hveragardi, Iceland - a geothermal hot spot of the country known for e.g. geothermal cooking.

An Icelandic recycling plant is using geothermal energy in its plastic recycling process.

“We believe we are reaching a certain turning point for the Icelandic nation in recycling,” says Sigurdur Halldórsson, CEO of Pure North, who recently started the country’s first plastic recycling plant in Hveragerdi in Iceland. Geothermal heat is used in the process, making it more environmentally friendly than comparable plants abroad.

At present, the factory takes takes packing plastics such as hay rolls from farms, sachets, plastic films and resilient plastics, which Sigurdur says is extremely demanding to recycle. The process is quite extensive as it is important to clean the plastic well before it can be re-cast into small plastic pallets that are then used in plastic production.

The video below looks at the recycling that has been developing at the company since 2015.

Most of the Icelandic plastic is now shipped offshore for recycling with the associated carbon combustion. It has been calculated that for every ton of plastic that is recycled, 1.8 tons of oil is saved. In the coming weeks, 24-hour shifts will begin on the company’s production line, with a performance of around 12 tonnes per day. A total of about 2,000 tonnes of plastic rolls per year is produced.

The production line for hard plastic and packaging plastics is also being prepared, and Sigurdur expects a great deal of activities on these issues in the near term. For example, the company’s plastic pallets are sold overseas, but he hopes that in the future they will be used in production in Iceland.

Hveragerdi is an interesting municipality with not only a few geothermal touristic sites, geothermally heated greenhouse operations, but also innovative geothermal cooking and even a geothermal beer being brewed on site. The town is about 30-40 min drive from Reykjavik and near the Hellisheidi geothermal power plant.