Circwaste pioneers tackling waste generation

News 2020-10-06 at 8:36
© Freepik

In 2017, the Finnish Environment Institute selected ten pioneering communities in the circular economy: Ii, Jyväskylä, Kuopio, Lahti, Lappeenranta, Porvoo, Riihimäki, Rovaniemi, Turku and Vantaa. The goal has been to promote material efficiency and recycling tangibly and ambitiously in these municipalities.

Due to the coronavirus epidemic, the municipalities gathered virtually to exchange recent experiences and ideas. The theme of the day was waste prevention, which also included a topical overview from Sweden. Karin Sundin from Stockholm vatten och avfall presented the activities of local waste management facilities. The plant systematically seeks to identify materials and products suitable for re-use from the waste that has ended up at the landfill.

Stockholm vatten och avfall is actively looking for new partners through which it can promote the reuse of materials. They also actively monitor that products really end up being used.

In Sweden, the reuse rate of materials ending up at landfills is around 3%, but at a downtown station specialising in reuse, the reuse rate is as high as 20%. The reuse of materials is promoted, among other things, through temporary pop-up transfer stations. In the future, there will also be a virtual application at the stations, through which interested parties will see a real-time situation of the materials and products available. The application will initially be tested as a pilot experiment, believed to give impetus to an increasing reuse of materials.

Active pioneering municipalities


A new Circlab demonstration environment is being opened in Ii municipality, focusing on the development of nutrient recycling and future technologies. The operating principle is that climate-positive research and development can be used to develop valuable product components from industrial by-products instead of costs and waste. In addition, the municipality has tested the Wastebook service platform and investigated the regional recycling rate and food waste situation.


In Jyväskylä, the circular economy municipality of 2019, separately collected municipal biowaste will be utilised in biogas production, and the sales volumes of the local biogas producer Mustankorkea Biokaasu have increased significantly in recent years. Almost all collected household and commercial biowaste is diverted to biogas production.


Kuopion Energia's new district cooling plant started operations in June 2020. The plant utilises the cold water of the Kallavesi basin to cool nearby properties. In addition, the city's new climate policy programme includes sector-specific emission reduction targets as well as example calculations to achieve these targets. For example, the emission reduction target for the consumption and material cycles sector is 38,000 tCO2 equivalent. In Kuopio, they have noticed that the recycling rate is not the biggest challenge but changing consumption habits to reduce the amount of waste. Many different school campaigns have been organised in the city and residents are being inspired to prevent waste with mobile applications.


The European Green Capital 2021 Lahti launches a new separate collection of biowaste. The aim of the experiment is to find new solutions for efficient separate collection of biowaste from detached houses in the future. A new low carbon construction development centre (Vähähiilisen rakentamisen kehittämiskeskus) is also based in Lahti, providing a product development and research platform for planning and testing carbon-neutral construction, sustainable development, and circular economy innovations. The aim is also to find new ways of linking circular economy and buildings by researching and implementing the recycling of building components and materials in demolition buildings on site or in the vicinity. In addition to the above-mentioned projects, there are many new small projects for residents, communities and companies in Lahti related to waste prevention.


Lappeenranta is one of the finalists in the competition for the European Green Leaf Award. And the first biogas plant of the city is nearing completion at Kukkuroinmäki processing centre. Similarly, project planning for the Sammonlahti multipurpose building is under way. When completed, the building will house early childhood education of the western part of the city, a comprehensive school of basic education, a library, youth services, a counselling centre and sports services. The planned multipurpose building offers many different possibilities, and the goal is to use the construction project as a model example. The city is also launching an innovative reuse workshop of surplus materials, Innoverstas, for the city residents to use this autumn. Companies and communities can donate surplus materials for further use by schoolchildren, communities and other city residents, among others.


A new sustainability commuting project is being launched in Porvoo. Its aim is to create mobility practices for workplaces that promote the wellbeing of employees in the region and at the same time reduce greenhouse gas emissions caused by commuting and business trips. Promoting wellbeing is in the heart of the project. The project also promotes the involved companies’ corporate image as responsible companies focusing on health benefits.


A recycling centre has been operating in Riihimäki since 1989, and its operations have grown and expanded over the years. According to data, the volumes of products sold have quadrupled from 2014 to 2019. The recycling centre is run by the employment services of the city of Riihimäki. Recycled goods are refurbished, cleaned, washed, ironed and sold. In addition, the recycling centre organises guidance on bicycle repairs and recycling, workshops and theme days, as well as environmental education.


A new project on the promotion of low-carbon and economically sustainable development of tourism in Lapland has been launched in Rovaniemi. The themes of the project are the long-term ecological and economic sustainability of tourism, energy solutions, recycling and waste management, and low-carbon and sustainability indicators. In addition, the Arctic Centre for Circular Economy project has begun to identify biomasses to produce biogas cost-effectively in the area. The survey has been extended to cover areas in neighbouring countries, outside the waste management company Residuum's area of operation. The survey has identified horse manure in particular as a potential biomass, but sludge and household biowaste are also examined.


In 2021, the first large-scale textile waste processing plant will open in the Turku region in Paimio. When it starts operating, the facility will process ten per cent of all Finnish textile waste, and in 2023 all of the country’s textile waste. The end product of the textile recycling process is recycled fibre, which can be used to produce various industrial applications such as yarn and fabric, construction and marine insulation materials, acoustic boards, composites, non-woven and filter materials, and other technical textiles such as geo-textiles.


The city of Vantaa has a lot of activities going on related to the circular economy and waste prevention. Vantaa's soil and aggregate management action plan was completed in autumn 2019, and as a result pulp coordination and the use of recycled materials have been piloted at several sites. In the CIRCuIT project launched in 2019, building components are introduced and costs and profitability are calculated using life cycle methods. The Helsinki Metropolitan Area Reuse Centre is a major employer, with seven recycling stores and two recycling department stores in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, and a nationwide online store. You can also buy warranty-serviced appliances, bicycles, and electrical and electronic equipment from the Reuse Centres.

Further information

  • Print page