The Faroe Islands are taking significant steps towards establishing a circular economy and increasing recycling rates. By promoting sustainable consumption and reducing waste at the source, as well as implementing effective recycling programs, the Faroe Islands are demonstrating a commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship.
Avoiding waste at the source
One of the key strategies employed by the Faroe Islands is to reduce waste at the source. To be conscious of the rare and precious resources available, reducing waste at the source is in the DNA of the local people. This includes promoting sustainable consumption habits and encouraging businesses to reduce their use of single-use plastics. Additionally, the government has established regulations requiring businesses to sort their waste and recycle as much as possible.
Food Waste in large-scale kitchens now is used to produce heating energy for households.
The certification processes for Hotel and Venue infrastructure in the Faroe Islands, like the Green Key Certification, demand among many other areas, recycling options for waste management. Whereas there are recycling systems in the Faroe Islands, the recycling of organic waste coming from kitchens in hotels, schools and hospitals was so far not possible via public infrastructure. Now the Förka Biogas plant, which belongs to the Bakkafrost Group, has initiated a pilot project together with Torshavn Municipality, Hilton and other Hotels, and the hospital, with the goal to test the processing of organic food waste as a step towards zero waste policy.
We spoke with Fróði Mortensen, Manager of the FÖRKA biogas plant, to understand better what it took to create this pilot and what are the experiences for the partners so far. Here is more about the background of the pilot project:
The FÖRKA biogas plant has a capacity of processing about 100,000 tons of biological waste from Bakkafrost’ hatcheries and farmers around the Faroes, at presence running at about 40.000 tons a year. The goal within the given capacity is to produce heating for 400 homes and electricity for 1,900 houses. The production also presently generates around 40,000 tons of quality manure that the Faroese farmers use to fertilize their land. FÖRKA’ production will save the Faroese environment for 11,000 tons of CO₂ emissions and in this way, helps create a more sustainable and greener Faroe Islands.
The recycling project came into life – as so often is the case – through a meeting and exchange of ideas, when Fróði attended a workshop about recycling, held by the city of Torshavn.
The FÖRKA biogas plant belongs to Bakkafrost, the largest salmon producer in the Faroe Islands, and was built in 2020 with the aim of using the waste from the salmon industry together with waste from farms as an energy source.
At the workshop, Fróði met the Hilton Hotel, and the idea was born to use the biogas plant also for organic waste from canteen kitchens, which had previously not the opportunity to dispose of their organic waste in the Faroe Islands. Together with the city, Förka, Hilton Hotel and the Hospital then developed a pilot project to try out the logistics for the process. The biggest challenges here are the EU veterinary legislation, which must approve the specific composition of organic waste to avoid the spread of any diseases via the fertilizer produced in the plant.
Sophisticated logistics are required, starting with the sorting of the waste, storage until collection and the collection itself.
On March 16, 2023, the first municipal truck was on its way to collect the organic waste and bring it to the FÖRKA facility.
According to Fróði, the project has gone well so far, and the facility has proven to be adequate in terms of equipment and capacity for processing the waste. A final meeting between the partners Torshavn municipality, FÖRKA, Hilton and the hospital is due to carry out an evaluation of the pilot project. The goal is then to convert organic waste from restaurants, hotels, and retail, as well as commercial kitchens in the plant into energy and heating.
What is particularly interesting is the fact, that 50,000 tons of valuable fertilizer for agriculture are recovered from 50,000 tons of biological waste. So – almost – zero waste. Little of the biomass is lost in the process but is made up for by adding water to the fertilizer.
As soon as the conditions for the disposal of the biological waste have been clarified, as many partners as possible should take part in the process. This would mean that the organic waste can be disposed of more quickly because the quantities are larger and the collection will be more frequent.
Organic waste will be taken away from normal waste disposal and benefits the soil again, which should be in everyone’s interest and can more than justify any additional effort for sorting and storing the waste.
Come and visit the Faroe Islands with your sport, cultural or business event and make sure to contribute to environment or society through knowledge and purposeful events, using the SDGs as orientation. We are happy to help you design your conference legacy – e g by organising visits and meetings with innovators!
More general information about the Faroe Islands can be found by visiting the Visit Faroe Islands Meetings website.
Johanna Fischer for Visit Faroe Islands Meetings,