Environmental and climate issues

Environmental and climate issues

Brim’s Sustainability and Environmental Policy

We attach great importance to responsibility towards the environment and society in its operations, and since 2017 have published a report dealing with environmental and social aspects. We have adopted an environmental and climate policy and set environmental and social goals. Our investments and internal operations are guided by these goals. We focus on protecting ecosystems, using green energy, and developing the circular economy by cutting waste to a minimum and cooperating widely. In 2023, we invested in the development of fishing gear, onshore connections for ships, environmental management systems, and better utilisation in pelagic fish processing.

The Icelandic government has set ambitious goals in the field of climate and energy transition, and our strategy contributes to the achievement of those goals. We have plans for further investment in energy transitions, including the electrification of transportation and production equipment, to replace equipment powered by fossil fuels. In order to bring such investment to fruition, it is important to ensure access to electricity and to prioritise value-creating production in Iceland – over, for example, e-coin mining. It is also important to decide on how the guarantee of origin scheme is to be implemented in Iceland. If Icelandic companies have to buy guarantees of origin related to electricity purchases, the operating costs and risks for investment in the necessary energy-transition infrastructure will rise. This applies, for instance, to equipment for onshore connections for ships. Thus, guarantees of origin effectively act as a reverse carbon tax and will inevitably delay the energy transition.

Brim’s Environmental Goals

In 2023, we have pursued the environmental and social goals that we set in 2021.

  • One of our goals is to increase the share of onshore electricity used for ships in port by 10–20% – instead of fossil fuels – by 2025.
    The share of onshore electricity used increased significantly in 2023. A total of 700 MWh of electricity was used for onshore connections for ships. The associated reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is estimated at just over 600 tCO2,* which is equivalent to the annual emissions of around 500 passenger cars.** We believe that onshore connections for ships are an efficient way of achieving success in climate matters and can also be used for the electrification of transport vehicles on land.
  • Another of our goals is to increase the share of hot water for ships in port by 30–50% – instead of fossil fuels – by 2025.
    Ships consumed approx. 6,000 m3 of hot water in 2023 – a decrease after strong growth between 2021 and 2022. The use of hot water goes hand in hand with the use of onshore electricity, and it is important for port infrastructure to be upgraded to allow for these climate-friendly ways of working and heating on board vessels.
  • The aim is to install an electrical connection for pelagic vessels on the quayside in Vopnafjörður before the end of 2024.
    Building work to extend the quay in Vopnafjörður is in the pipeline. In parallel, we aim to install an electrical connection for pelagic vessels.
  • The target is a reduction in the fossil-fuel consumption of each of the company’s fishing vessels by 2% each year over the coming years.
    Oil consumption by vessels fell by 10% between 2021 and 2022, but rose again by 3% between 2022 and 2023. This can be explained in part by the fact that more fishing vessels were operating in 2023 than in the previous year.
  • When replacing vehicles and heavy machinery, we will opt for those using renewable energy wherever possible.
    In 2023, we invested in electric forklifts for our whitefish processing operations in Norðurgarður. Our investment in electric vehicles and heavy machinery has limited impact on climate.
  • The replacement of freon refrigerants is set to be mostly completed by the end of 2025.
    The replacement of freon refrigerants was completed to a significant extent in 2022. There are still a few older systems operating in Iceland, but these will be replaced over the next few years. Emissions from refrigerants fell by 42% in 2023.
  • Targeted efforts are expected to lead to a 3% per year increase in the share of recyclable operational waste up to 2025.
    The share of recyclable waste was 79% in 2023, as compared to 78% in 2022 and 74% in 2021.
  • We will seek ways of increasing the share of operational waste in the circular economy.
    Emissions from waste continued to fall in 2023. We focused on working with suppliers towards development – one of our actions over the year was to adopt 100% recycled stretch film for our pallets. By using recycled packaging solutions, we contribute to increased demand in the circular economy, thereby encouraging the use of recycled materials instead of new raw materials.
  • Our environmental management system will be used to manage utilisation of electricity and cold and hot water in the most efficient way possible, as well as to reduce waste.
    Our environmental management system is the cornerstone in implementing our climate policy. Development of the system is now in the hands of Stika Environmental Solutions. Stika was set up in 2022 to enable the environmental management system to be used by more companies.
  • We aim to become an active participant in certified carbon sequestration in Iceland by means of afforestation, wetland restoration and/or other methods by 2025.
    We launched our afforestation project at Torfastaðir in Vopnafjörður in 2023. The project follows the methodology and standards of the Forest Carbon Code and is registered in the International Carbon Registry (Project ID: 1759). Almost 100,000 trees have been planted, and the project will continue in 2024. The project is implemented in successful collaboration with the landowners in the nearby area. Part of the land can be used as an outdoor recreation area for locals and their visitors.

Green and blue financing

Financing linked to environmental and social issues

We negotiated a ISK 33 billion sustainability-related syndicated loan in June 2023. The terms of the loan include incentives for greater sustainability and defined performance indicators in the field of environmental and social issues in accordance with our strategy and goals. The performance indicators take include greenhouse gas emission generated by fishing, and Brim is a global pioneer in this kind of information provision. The lenders are three international banks: the international food and agricultural bank Rabobank, the Nordic Nordea bank and Norway’s DNB Bank. Íslandsbanki is the supervisory and security agent for the loan.

Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive

Implementation of rules on information provision regarding Brim’s influence on sustainable development

Information on the environmental impact of our operations serves as the basis for our implementation of new legislation on non-financial information provision (i.e. the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD)). We will publish information based on that legislation for the 2024 fiscal year, in accordance with the European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS) on which the CSRD is based. We now have the key results of a dual importance analysis aimed at mapping the most important aspects of sustainable development that Brim can influence and how changes in those aspects affect our operations.

The EU Taxonomy entered into effect in Iceland on 1 January 2023 with the enactment of Act No 25/2023. The EU Directive sets the technical assessment criteria to be used when assessing whether a given economic activity falls under the Directive's definition of what is environmentally sustainable and whether the investment/business activity in question is environmentally sustainable.

Technical assessment criteria have not been defined for the production of seafood products and therefore only a small part of our activities may be classified as environmentally sustainable activities under the EU Taxonomy. Such criteria are, however, currently being developed. Brim – in cooperation with Fisheries Iceland (SFS) and the Icelandic Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries – contributed to the opinion submitted by the Icelandic Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs to the Council of Europe (Platform on Sustainable Finance). That opinion suggests that the technical assessment criteria for sustainable production of seafood products should take into account other food production, as scientific studies have shown that greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production of Icelandic seafood products is limited in comparison to those associated with the production of most other protein-rich foods. More information on the classification of our activities can be found on pages 44–46 of our Annual Report.

Biodiversity and the ecosystem approach

‘Biodiversity’ means variation among organisms in a diverse environment, including ecosystems on land, in seas and in lakes, and the ecological systems of which they are a part. This includes diversity within species, between species and among ecosystems. The ‘ecosystem approach’ means coordinated management of the use of land, water and living resources, encouraging conservation and sustainable use under the guiding principle of equality.

(Source: BIODICE)


In recent years, there has been greater focus on biodiversity in the international debate on sustainable development. This is reflected, for instance, in the Task Force on Nature-Related Financial Disclosures and the development of the European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS). Brim has taken account of biological diversity in its activities for many years – Iceland has been a signatory to the international Convention on Biological Diversity (www.cbd.int) since 1992.

Two working groups (under the auspices of the Icelandic Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries and the Icelandic Ministry of the Environment, Energy and Climate) are currently discussing implementation of measures to protect biological diversity in Icelandic waters, in accordance with recent international conventions, such as the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. Consultation with stakeholders – including fishing companies – is an important part of that methodology. We have built up know-how in the field of biodiversity and other aspects of sustainable development – our operations in 2023 included involvement in activities organised by BIODICE (a collaboration platform on biological diversity) and creation of a roadmap for Festa. Here are our key points of view as regards the ecosystem approach and the protection of biological diversity:

  1. It is clearly in the interest of the fisheries sector for biodiversity to be protected. It is important for the various ecosystem approaches in industry to work together to form one coherent ecosystem approach.
  2. Marine biodiversity protection is only to a small extent about fisheries management in the traditional sense. It is necessary to define what should be protected and from what, develop protection plans based on extensive knowledge of the environment and business practices, and build on incentives that contribute towards stakeholder efforts for long-term success.
  3. Protected areas in Icelandic waters must be developed on the basis of protection and responsible utilisation, before the scope of activities of new industries increase significantly.
  4. General awareness of concepts related to biodiversity – e.g. fragile ecosystems, species diversity and genetic diversity within species – needs to be raised.

Stika Environmental Solutions

Development of Brim’s environmental management system is now in the hands of Stika Environmental Solutions. Stika was set up to enable the environmental management system to be used by more companies. Brim uses the system to keep track of greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels and refrigerants (Scope 1), water and electricity consumption (Scope 2) and emissions in the value chain, e.g. packaging, transport and waste generation (Scope 3). We shall be implementing an improved version of the system in 2024 – the aim is that the information obtained from the Stika system and from other information systems in use at Brim will enable us to do even better in identifying opportunities for improvement in the field of environmental and climate issues and for greater value creation.

Environmental Results

Cooperation on innovation and better environmental results

We believe in the importance of cooperation with suppliers, service providers, innovative companies, universities and research institutes to support progress in the field of environment and society. Using data and know-how creates the conditions for good decision-making on such matters as long-term investment and the efficient utilisation of raw materials, with the goal of improving value creation and minimising environmental impact. Areas of cooperation in 2023 included: switching from new plastic packaging to 100% recycled plastics; testing new fishing gear; research with the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute and Matís; carbon sequestration via afforestation; utilisation of data with the Directorate of Fisheries; and collaboration with universities in Iceland and abroad in the form of Master’s projects, final projects in undergraduate studies and professional training. Cooperation within our company and with Stika and the engineering firm EFLA on developing and reviewing Brim’s environmental results has improved data management.

The emission coefficients for the burning of fossil fuels (Scope 1) have been updated in accordance with the latest findings of the International Maritime Organization, and the emission coefficients for the use of electricity and water (Scope 2) have been updated in accordance with data from the Environment Agency of Iceland, the National Energy Authority and utility companies.

Scope 2 emissions are accounted for based on actual emissions in Iceland and calculated emissions based on the European Union’s guarantee of origin system.

In Scope 3, construction waste and waste from operations have been distinguished in greater detail, and emission coefficients have been updated in accordance with the latest figures from the Environment Agency of Iceland. Scope 3 covers the production and transport of fossil fuels to Iceland, packaging use, domestic transport of goods and raw materials, the import and export of inputs and products to and from the company, staff commuting, rental-car use, and staff air travel. The emission coefficients for packaging have been reviewed, and cooperation with transport companies on the use of real data for transport (instead of using emission factors) has been strengthened. When calculating greenhouse gas emissions per product weight unit (kg CO2/kg product), account is taken of emissions from the production and transport of fossil fuels, from packaging and chemical products (e.g. cleaning agents) and from the transport of products from Brim to the buyer.

The carbon footprint of the company’s products is calculated according to ISO 22948:2020 (Carbon footprint for seafood). The changes made in 2022 mean that emissions from the production of fossil fuels (about 14% of emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels) are included in the carbon footprint of products for 2023. Such emissions have been part of our emission accounting since 2021, but have not previously been taken into account when calculating the carbon footprint of products.

Greenhouse gas intensity

Greenhouse gas intensity is a measure of the ratio of a company’s greenhouse gas emissions to value creation. The measure takes into account company growth and can be used to compare companies in different industries and to assess different investment options that affect greenhouse gas emissions. We have invested significantly in recent years with the goal of increasing value creation and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It should be borne in mind that many external factors can affect greenhouse gas intensity, such as market conditions and the state of fish stocks.

Since information on Scope 3 emissions is available only for a limited period of time, greenhouse gas intensity for total income is based on Scope 1 and Scope 2 as calculated in 2015. This is done so it is possible to compare greenhouse gas intensity over a longer period. In the coming years, the aim is for the calculation of greenhouse gas intensity to take account of total emissions.

Climate impact of Brim products as compared to other food products

Greenhouse gases emission from the production of our seafood is low compared to most other types of food, especially if one considers at the nutritional value and protein content of the food. Limited emissions compared to other foods are the result of efficient fishing from healthy fish stocks, good utilisation of raw materials, and Brim’s use of renewable energy. We have noted increasing interest on the part of buyers and financial institutions in information on greenhouse gas emissions. We can assume that it will continue to increase, and there is a significant chance that Icelandic seafood products will become more competitive in the coming years, if there is focus on building know-how and on investing in ocean research and utilisation of fish stocks. It is also important to prioritise renewable energy, i.e. value can be created from Icelandic resources in many parts of the country.

The sources referred to in the adjacent image are: SINTEF’s report from 2022, the analysis of climate issues on the United Nations website, and the data provider Our World in Data.

Greenhouse gas emissions from fishing

Most of our greenhouse gas emissions come from the consumption of fossil fuels by ships. Weather, fish migration and changes in the environment are among the factors that affect the fishing of wild fish stocks, and knowledge of their status is important to minimise fossil-fuel consumption during fishing. In 2023, our total emissions reached 65,000 tCO2. The total catch was 195,000 tonnes.

When comparing categories of fishing operations, different situations and possibilities for value creation – e.g. distance to fishing grounds – must be taken into account. Research fishing by Brim and the Icelandic Marine Research About accounts for some 100 tCO2 of total fishing vessel emissions. At the end of March, representatives of the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute, Star-Oddi and Brim visited the golden redfish fishing grounds to the west and south-west of Iceland to ascertain whether it was possible to echolocate golden redfish in known spawning grounds by comparing catches in bottom trawls and echo values.

Supporting for innovative climate projects

SoGreen is an Icelandic start-up company that has focused on the education of girls in Africa as a way to deal with climate change. In 2022, we began supporting the SoGreen project, which aims to achieve certification of carbon units in the future.

Energy Consumption

Energy consumption of fishmeal factories

Efforts are made to use electricity as much as possible in our fishmeal factories. The fishmeal factory in Vopnafjörður was electrified in 2010. The production of fishmeal is an energy-intensive process – almost 67 GWh of energy was used for the production of fishmeal in 2023, a comparable figure to 2022. In total, some 64% of the energy used of fishmeal factories came from renewable energy sources – much higher than in 2022 (36%) – and emissions from fossil-fuel combustion for fishmeal production fell by almost 4,800 tCO2 (42%). However, emissions are still much higher than over the period 2015–20, and this is primarily due to reductions in electricity.

Our goal is to use environmentally friendly energy sources in the production of fishmeal. Since we began to invest in electrification, the consumption of electricity has increased dramatically. One of the reasons for this is the introduction of data centres, which today use over 1,000 GWh of electricity per year. The reduction of electricity to fishmeal factories means that the investment in energy transition that has already taken place is not being utilised properly. We therefore consider that it is extremely important to prioritise the energy transition of traditional companies in the delivery of electricity in the coming years, so as to ensure the predictability of energy delivery. This is a prerequisite for companies to be able to make the investment needed for the energy transition in Icelandic society to continue.

Energy Consumption

Carbon surcharge on fuel

The carbon surcharge is a tax levied on all fossil fuels – in 2023, it amounted to ISK 13 per litre of gas and diesel oil for ships. The surcharge is part of the government’s plan to harmonise the taxation of vehicles and fuel, with the aim of encouraging the use of environmentally friendly vehicles, energy saving, lower greenhouse gas emissions and greater use of domestic energy sources. Legislative drafts posted on the government’s consultation portal suggest that carbon surcharges on fuel will increase significantly going forward, together with the development of the ETS2 system, which is intended to tackle emissions from road transport, domestic heating and small-scale industry.

Sale of guarantees of origin for electricity

It has been decided to sell guarantees of origin for electricity to domestic households and traditional companies in order to raise profits from the operations of energy companies and bring regulations into line with continental Europe. Guarantees of origin for electricity serve the purpose of certifying to energy buyers that the energy purchased is produced in a renewable manner. Until 2022, guarantees of origin were delivered on the public electricity market free of charge, as renewable electricity is the only type offered on the public Icelandic electricity market.

All of the electricity we purchased is renewable and can therefore be considered ”green.” We now have the choice of paying a higher price for electricity or having purchases of non-green energy on our books. Thus, the calculated emissions of greenhouse gases (Scope 2 – market basis) by as much as the emissions that the production of electricity used by Brim would have caused if it had been produced by coal plants or by other non-renewable means, as is common in continental Europe.

Brim's calculated greenhouse gases emission due under Scope 2 would have been 34,286 tCO2 in 2023; in reality, it was 363 tCO2 when compared to real conditions in Iceland. Consumers are ever more demanding as regards their food in the context of climate issues, and it is likely that information on greenhouse gas emissions is already beginning to influence the choices of certain consumer groups on the food market. If buyers insist that emission information takes account of calculated emissions, the sale of guarantees of origin in Iceland will weaken the competitive position of Icelandic food.

Brim has already invested in the electrification of fishmeal production, onshore connections for ships and other projects in the field of energy transition. Our management considers that the higher electricity prices caused by the sale of guarantees of origin makes it less feasible to make the necessary investment in energy transition and thus works against Brim’s climate goals and the government’s goals for energy transition in Iceland.

We do not intend to purchase guarantees of origin for electricity in 2024.

Circular Economy

Building up the circular economy

The circular economy is an economy where resources are prevented from becoming waste. Development the circular economy is one of the government’s current policy priorities, with the aim of minimising resource use and thus waste generation. We have been working towards these goals for years, as the sensible utilisation of resources and the minimisation of waste generation is positive from the point of view of the environment and the economy and also creates social value. Staff initiatives and suggestions, targeted awareness-raising, and cooperation with suppliers and public bodies play a key role in this context.

Waste prevention, reuse and recycling are fundamental aspects of our operations. We assess whether waste generated at one establishment can be used at another. If it cannot, the waste in question is sorted and its final destination is recorded in our environmental management system.

Developing and recycling fishing gear

We attach great importance to the durability of fishing gear and on labelling in accordance with the relevant regulations. In 2023, there were no incidents where fishing gear was lost at sea. In collaboration with Hampiðjan, we recycle all fishing gear that is no longer useful. Ship crews and staff at Brim’s sorting stations remove those parts of fishing gear that can be reused within the company, and the rest is returned to Hampiðjan. The development of fishing gear takes account of environmental requirements. In 2023, Brim invested in fishing gear that reduces fuel consumption during pelagic fishing and participated in research and development projects on the use of light in fishing and the use of recycled raw materials in fishing gear.


Emissions from refrigerants have fallen by more than 70% since 2021, when a goal was set for the replacement of refrigerants. Refrigerant leaks were discovered in 2023 in old cooling systems in Akranes and Vopnafjörður, and they were repaired. It is hoped that emissions from refrigerants will be negligible by 2024.


Transportation of products to overseas buyers

Transportation of Brim’s products falls under Scope 3, i.e. emissions originating in the value chain of the products. Carbon emission calculators are used in part to estimate emissions due to transport to overseas buyers. We place great emphasis on the fact that, in the future, real data from suppliers will be the basis for providing information on emissions related to Scope 3.

In 2023, the total amount of emissions from the transport of whitefish products was 2,998 tCO2. 16,561 tonnes of products were exported by ship and 655 tonnes by air. The total amount of emissions from the export of fishmeal and fish oil was 1,604 tCO2 – a total of 40,103 tonnes of meal and fish oil products were exported.


Value creation in harmony with the environment and society

Brim’s policy in environmental and climate matters is based on creating value in harmony with the environment and society, and includes a long-term goal of carbon neutrality. Rational use of resources is the foundation of our activities, and we do our bit towards responsible resource use and sensible climate action. Investment in carbon sequestration by means of afforestation began at Torfastaðir in Vopnafjörður in 2023, when almost 100,000 trees were planted. Planting has been spearheaded by young members of Brim staff in Vopnafjörður and the youth association Einherji, as well as by contractors in the field of forestry. We are aiming for carbon sequestration certification by means of afforestation in Torfastaðir; this entails regular reporting on the growth of the trees and entering carbon units in a “carbon register”.

As well as planting trees, younger members of Brim staff have been working on cleaning up Torfastaðir. Farmers sometimes accumulate various types of waste, e.g. roll plastic. Different categories of waste are managed and processed appropriately.

There are plans to instal onshore connections for Brim’s pelagic ships in Vopnafjörður, as we expect to see the government’s energy transition action plan come to fruition and renewable energy become the basis of sea-related operations in 2030. We have already begun to invest in energy transition for our fishmeal factory in Vopnafjörður but, due to cuts in electricity for fishmeal production, we had to invest in diesel-powered power stations for electricity production in Vopnafjörður in 2023.