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Government’s analysis, assessment and research activities
Report: Special efforts needed to improve the recycling of biowaste and plastics

Government Communications DepartmentMinistry of the Environment 15.2.2019 9.03
Press release 93/2019

The Finnish Environment Institute SYKE has studied how the recycling of municipal waste could be made more efficient in a way that suits the Finnish conditions. The study was based on the European Commission recommendations, according to which measures such as clarification of responsibilities for waste management and more cooperation among the operators is needed to raise the recycling rate in Finland. Reaching the recycling targets requires significant changes to the current system.

Based on the study, recycling should be improved especially by increasing the property-specific separate collection of biowaste and plastic packaging waste, as well as that of cardboard, and by more efficient sorting.

The Finnish Environment Institute proposes statutory limits to be set in the waste legislation for the separate collection of household waste and municipal waste from administrative, service and business operations. In practice this would mean the obligation to organise the separate collection of waste in the property based on the number of rooms or other criteria. At the moment statutory limits for residential properties have been specified in the municipal waste management regulations. More advice should be provided to make sorting more efficient.

According to the study, the most costly way to increase separate collection would be by using the current system where each waste fraction has a separate container on every property and a separate vehicle for waste collection. To reduce environmental impacts and costs, new collection systems such as multi-compartment or shared containers and joint collection of useful waste fractions should be tested and introduced to use in areas with detached, semi-detached and row houses and at the urban margins.

Clarification of responsibilities for waste management would enable cost-effective planning and implementation. In the management of packaging waste, the current model for distribution of responsibilities could be improved by introducing a statutory cooperation procedure for producers and municipalities to agree on matters related to waste collection.

The responsibilities for waste management could also be improved by amending the Waste Act by deleting the opportunity for municipalities to choose waste transportation organised by the property owner for their area. This means that for residential properties waste transportation organised by municipalities would be the only option.

The recycling objectives in the Waste Framework Directive were tightened in 2018. The new objective to 2025 is to recycle at least 55% of municipal waste. The objective to 2030 is 60%, and by 2035 as much as 65% of municipal waste should be recycled. The current recycling rate in Finland is 41%.

The project on the recycling of municipal waste to boost a circular economy (JÄTEKIVA) was conducted as part of the implementation of the Government's analysis and research plan for 2017. The main objective was to study the best ways to implement the recommendations given by the European Commission in 2018 concerning measures to improve the recycling of municipal waste in the Finnish circumstances.

Inquiries: Hanna Salmenperä, Senior Coordinator, Finnish Environment Institute SYKE, tel. +358 29 525 1605, firstname.lastname(at)ymparisto.fi