During the past three weeks Ovar Theis-Haugland and Andreas Risstad have been collecting junk. They are focusing on pallets and jerrycans, which alone given them more than enough to do.
They estimate they so far have collected 160 old and rusty jerrycans, and more than 23 tons of pallets.
Lots of fuel
The men have a certain criteria for their priorities in collecting the the debris. Jerrycans left alone, without labeling or at a space with ties to snowmobiles or other devices, are among the first gathered. Some have been so long in the same place they have almost "sunk" into the marshlands.
"We found several cans were completely full of fuel," Risstad said.
The area around the Nybyen and below Funken are described as places where the most junk was found. But there has been plenty elsewhere.
Hans Petter Lauritsen at Reno Vest, which operates the solid waste facility, suggested the debris shows the bad habits of many in Longyearbyen.
"In my opinion, we must begin to take responsibility for what we have left around," he said. "We can't expect the cans and the like will be left untouched for all time when
they are placed out in the terrain."
He said there also needs to be a more conscious attitude about everyday garbage, as well as from businesses who should behave professionally.
A blight on the city's reputation
"In Longyearbyen I found piles which consisted partly of hazardous waste abandoned on the streets of a company that was doing a job," Lauritsen said. "On one occasion there was a strong wind, and the trash could have been scattered widely if we had not intervened and cleaned it up."
At the waste facility the jerrycans are disposed of properly. The pallets are ground up into chips and sent to the mainland for incineration. Lauritsen said jokingly the Longyearbyen municipal government's logo is inaccurate.
"It was a tourist that said the logo should have picture of a pallet," he said with a smile before taking on a more serious expression.
"I think we judge peoplein many ways, including how tidy they have it in their communities," he said. "Norway wants to be perceived as an environmentally responsible nation and yet there is so much junk around here in Longyearbyen."
Longyearbyen is increasingly becoming a tourist destination, and Lauritsen said guides are getting reactions from tourists about all the junk laying about here and there in the community. He said he thinks that is harmful to the reputation of the town as a pristine experience.
"We live in special circumstances here, but it doesn´t have to look like this ," he said. "We can get better."
Translated by Mark Sabbatini