Minimizing the use of plastic

The Government of Greenland, Naalakkersuisut, have released their vision on how to lower the use of plastic in Greenland.

It doesn’t really bring that much to the table, and it - ironically - lacks vision. It just follows what EU has already decided. Which is, a ban of single-use plastics and a focus on what becomes of the remaining plastic.

Contrary to popular belief, Greenland is actually a dirty place.

Most settlements in Greenland doesn’t have any means of sorting or getting rid of their trash. The trash is just put out in the open at the settlement’s “dump”. So with a strong gust of wind, light-weight trash such as plastic will blow out into the sea.

In 2017 the University of Aarhus found that only 20% of the trash in Greenland’s sea was from external sources. The remaining 80% were from Greenland itself. So there’s definitely room for improvement.

This month a family were paid by the Environment Fund to collect trash in and around the town of Sisimiut. They collected 500 large bags worth of trash.

So what does the government’s action plan entail?

Plastic bags

Today, between 3.5 and 5 million plastic bags are imported to Greenland every year. This is around 78 tons plastic, just for shopping bags. The largest supermarket chain in Greenland, Pisiffik estimates that they also import 23 tons of “other” types of plastic.

In 2019, Naalakkersuisut introduced a 3 DKK tax on plastic bags. The new action plan will not place a ban on these plastic bags. They will only place a ban on the thin transparent plastic bags used mostly when buying fruits and vegetables.

Toilet bags

Plastic bags are used in about 5200 toilets which aren’t connected to sewers.

These bags are supposed to be collected by the municipality, which will empty the contents unfiltered into the ocean. The bags themselves are burned in an incinerator. If such an incinerator isn’t available at the settlement or town, the bags with the contents are simply left at the aforementioned “dump”.

The new action plan doesn’t really change much in this aspect. Two new incinerators are being built in Sisimiut and Nuuk, and according to the action plan it will be possible to collect the emptied plastic toilet bags and bring them to Nuuk or Sisimiut to be burned.

An alternative to the use of plastic bags in this regard, is - according to the action plan - to use buckets which can be cleaned and re-used.

Single-use plastics

Naalakkersuisut proposes to introduce a ban on single-use plastics on 1 January 2022. This includes straws, coffee cups, cutlery among other things.

Nothing much to add to this. It’s what should have been done a long time ago.

Micro plastics

Naalakkersuisut wants to clean-up the discarded fishing nets which are in abundance in the greenlandic sea. The clean-up includes the areas along the coastline which fishermen use and where a lot of discarded trash is located.

Furthermore, a ban of micro plastic in cosmetics and cleaning products are to be introduced.

Lastly, they want to look into measures to clean sewage before it’s let into the sea.


This action plan is a step in the right direction. Greenland needs to step-up its game. Sadly, this action plan doesn’t really bring with it the radical changes we need to see in this world in order to combat or mitigate the damage humans have done to it.

A ban of single-use plastic is good. Why not a ban on plastic bags as well? A ban of ICE vehicles? A greater use of solar panels and wind turbines? A focus on walking and cycling?

A couple of predictions

In an article on Sermitsiaq about the finances in the company behind the two future international airports in Nuuk and Ilulissat it is stated that no-one could have predicted the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequences on air travel when the budget for the upcoming airports were being negotiated.

Well, there have been many pandemics before COVID-19 and there will be many after. It’s actually quite easy to predict that air travel will face several obstacles.

GreenGreenland has always been against building the two new international airports instead of renovating and modernizing the existing airport in Kangerlussuaq. Or building the new Nuuk International Airport on the islands south of Nuuk.

Let’s make a few predictions:

  • A new pandemic will come along and disrupt air travel.
  • An Icelandic volcano will erupt and distrupt air travel.
  • Fewer people will use air travel, as more and more people become aware of climate change.
  • At least 1 airplane will overshoot the runway at Nuuk International Airport and crash down the 50 meters drop at the end of the runway.
  • The people of Nuuk will see a decrease in health due to the noise and air pollution from the planes and the airport.
  • The two new international airports will turn out to be a bad investment, and will need to be re-financed.

All of Copenhagen’s harbour buses are now electric

We previously wrote about wanting to have a water bus service in Nuuk. Such a service has been offered in Copenhagen, Denmark for a long time. We know it isn’t about Greenland, but bear with us.

The harbour bus service in Copenhagen is now electric. The first 2 electric water buses were put in operation in June this year, and last month in July the remaining 3 were out in use as well.

The new electric Copenhagen Water Bus can carry 80 passengers, 8 bicycles and 4 wheelchairs.

Only time will tell if we get to see such a thing in Greenland.

Nukissiorfiit finally gets serious about EV charging

In 2016, the power company Nukissiorfiit installed 13 EV chargers in Nuuk. Since then, not much has happened. Until now.

Nukissiorfiit have announced that they will install several new charging stations in Nuuk in the beginning of 2021, with a nation-wide roll-out to follow. They talk about launcing an app where EV-owners can see which chargers are available and which are in-use.

EV-owners can fill out Nukissiorfiit’s survey with questions such as “Would you be interested in getting an EV charger at home for 50 DKK per month?” here (They sadly chose to use Google for the survey).