9. Waste management and environment

All of Greenland is facing vast environmental and waste challenges. More waste is being generated due to increasing private consumption and a growing construction sector. At the moment, waste is not handled in an appropriate manner, which affects our environment, nature, fauna and public health negatively. As a municipality, it is our job to handle waste in a way that ensures that it does not harm the environment. Therefore, we must put a lot of effort into identifying long-term, sustainable solutions for waste management.

Increased reuse in towns

Even though we have become better at sorting and testing different types of packaging and shipping of reusable equipment in recent years, only around two per cent of the municipality’s total waste volume is shipped for reuse. Incineration and landfill are still the main ways of disposing of most of our waste.

We will take the lead and change our approach to waste, which must increasingly be used as a resource. We will still need to burn part of our waste, but we will work to achieve more sustainable management in towns, focusing on reuse and recycling and using the full potential of waste.

In all towns, we will develop our sorting system to allow for use and reuse of a larger share of our waste. We will sort plastic, glass, metal/iron and cardboard/paper, and focus on increasingly removing hazardous waste. We will also look into the possibility of developing a central waste and resource centre in Ilulissat, which will explore new solutions for reuse and recycling and make it easier for citizens to dispose of their reusable waste.

We will also prepare a green procurement policy for municipal institutions to ensure that public procurement increasingly considers the environment and our resources.

Action plans for settlements

The municipality is facing special infrastructure challenges due to the vast distances, many towns and settlements and limited port facilities, which renders waste management in settlements especially challenging.

The incineration plants in settlements are worndown or inoperable and do not possess the capacity to handle today’s waste volumes. Also, burning waste causes high emissions of harmful substances. Therefore, we must prioritise establishing new plants that comply with current environmental standards.

We will prepare local action plans, focusing on identifying local solutions for environmental management of waste in settlements. It is essential to involve local actors and companies in the process so they can contribute to finding sustainable and tangible disposal solutions. Special attention must be given to disposing of night soil, and to identifying solutions that can be adapted to both summer and winter seasons, since seasons come with different challenges and, in turn, different assumptions for waste disposal.

It is also necessary to upgrade roads to dumps and incineration plants and to ensure that new plants are located outside residential areas.

Awareness and information

Waste is not just a municipal concern, so we encourage citizens and businesses alike to do their part in keeping our communities clean and protecting our nature.

Must of the waste in the municipality is generated by the business community, which is growing. We will make bigger demands on how companies handle waste, and strengthen our cooperation with businesses to jointly come up with sustainable solutions.

Today, litter in our nature is a major challenge, affecting our fauna on land and at sea. At the same time, citizens do not use our receiving facilities enough, which means that too little of the hazardous waste is removed. As a consequence, we will make it a priority to inform citizens and raise their awareness about waste management and the environment, and to increase user friendliness, which will make it easier to sort correctly and obtain a green behaviour.

The town plan will work to:

  • Develop green waste management in towns and settlements
  • Look into the possibility of establishing a new dump area in Ilulissat
  • Develop a central waste centre in Ilulissat.
  • Integrate waste solutions and storage areas in new areas
  • Develop new communities based on environmental concerns

Sector activities will focus on:

  • Informing about environmental impacts
  • Implementing a green municipal procurement policy
  • Engaging in dialogue with the business community