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Finland

Waste (Finland)

Why should we care about this issue

Topic
Waste Waste
Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 23 Nov 2010

 

It is important to reduce soil, water and air pollution and the potential health hazards caused by waste. Waste can also be detrimental to the use of environment and deteriorate the landscape. The increasing trend towards the reuse and recycling of waste is positive. In Finland, there is a possibility that the amount of waste incinerated will increase, making it even more important to find more effective methods of waste management.

The state and impacts

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 08 Apr 2011

 

In April 2008 the Finnish Government approved the Towards a recycling society - The National Waste Plan for 2016[1]. The National Waste Plan and its background documents[2] contain a detailed description of future measures and targets. In addition, they include a description of the status and development of the waste sector in Finland. This is the second National Waste Plan, following on from the first plan that covered the period 1998–2005 and was revised in 2002.

 

In 2007, the total waste generated was around 74 million tonnes (excluding manure recycled in agriculture and logging waste left in forests) which is about 14 000 kg/capita. The amount of waste has been increasing in recent years from around 68 million tonnes in 2004.

 

In 2007, approximately 40 % of the waste generated in Finland was recovered as material or as energy. Waste recovery rates vary from sector to sector. The largest quantity of waste recovered as material comes from mineral and waste wood and scrap metal. A large amount of waste recovered as energy consists of waste wood and sludge. Around 60 % of the total waste generated is deposited for recovery. The amount of incinerated waste is rather small, less than 15 % in 2008.

 

Just over one-third of the total amount of waste is construction waste, consisting mostly of mineral waste, and a similar amount originates from quarrying and mining, mostly as stone, ore dressing, sand and excess soil[3].

 

Municipal waste

Municipal waste represents around 4 % of the total waste. Around two thirds of municipal waste originates from households. Between 1997 and 2007, this amount increased slightly from 2.2 to 2.6 million tonnes. During the same period, the share of municipal waste recovered increased from 34 to 47 %. In 2007, the amount of municipal waste was 507 kg/capita, which is slightly below the EU average.

 

Figure 1: Total amount of municipal waste in Finland 1997–2008

Waste Figure1


Source: Statistics Finland[4]

 

Recycled paper and cardboard

Paper and cardboard recycling is one of the oldest waste recycling schemes in Finland. In 2004, 1.1 million tonnes of paper were consumed in Finland, representing approximately 214 kg/person. Of this, 71 % (i.e. 0.8 million tonnes) was recycled. Together with Germany, Finland is a world leader in paper recycling. Recycled paper and cardboard are used as a raw material for printing paper, soft tissues and packing board. 

 

Packaging waste

Finland uses over 2 million tonnes of packaging annually but, because of efficient recycling, only around 600 000 tonnes of packaging waste is generated. Almost 70 % (413 000 tonnes) of this packaging waste, is recycled or utilised as energy.

 

Biodegradable waste

A large part of the 35 million tonnes of biodegradable waste produced annually comes from agriculture. Around 90 % of the biodegradable waste originating from forest industry is reused.

 

Table 1: Total and landfilled waste

 

Total amount (1 000 tonnes)

Landfilled (1 000 tonnes)

Agriculture

20 000

 

Manufacturing sector

11 000

1 100

Municipalities (including sewage sludge)

3 000

1 200

 

Hazardous waste

In 2003, Finland produced 1.3 million tonnes of hazardous waste. Around 1 million tonnes originated from the manufacturing sector and consisted mainly of process waste from metal refineries and the chemical industry. Approximately 55 % of the hazardous waste was deposited in special landfills for hazardous waste. The remainder was treated, incinerated or recycled by licensed facilities.

 

See also:        Wastes, Finnish Environment Institute

                      Waste types, Finnish Environment Institute

                      State of the Environment in Finland 2008, p. 8.



[1] Towards a recycling society The National Waste Plan for 2016 (in English),

[Kohti kierrätysyhteiskuntaa Valtakunnallinen jätesuunnitelma vuoteen 2016] (in Finnish).

[2]  National Waste Plan for 2016 – Background document, Finnish Environment 16/2007 (in Finnish);

Finnish Environment Institute (2006) The role and critical limits of waste co-incineration in Finland’s waste disposal strategy, Background document, Part I, Reports of the Finnish Environment Institute 15 (in Finnish);

Finnish Environment Institute (2006) Assessing the impacts of the promotion of material efficiency, Background document, Part II, Reports of the Finnish Environment Institute 9 (in Finnish);

Finnish Environment Institute (2006) Environmental aspects of energy and material recovery of wastes, Background document, Part III, Reports of the Finnish Environment Institute12 (in Finnish);

Finnish Environment Institute (2007) Identification and assessment of the environmental impacts of landfilled industrial waste, Background document, Part IV, Reports of the Finnish Environment Institute 2 (in Finnish);

Finnish Environment Institute (2007) Role of municipalities in future waste management, Background document, Part V, Reports of the Finnish Environment Institute 8 (in Finnish);

Finnish Environment Institute (2007) Assessing the impacts of the proposed steering methods, Background document, Part VI, Reports of the Finnish Environment Institute 9 (in Finnish);

[3] See also Wastes, Finnish Environment Institute, Waste Statistics, Statistics Finland (in Finnish), Finland – State of the Environment 2008, p. 8.

[4] Waste Statistics, Statistics Finland (in Finnish).

The key drivers and pressures

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 23 Nov 2010

 

Consumer behaviour and consumption patterns affect waste generation. Some of the driving forces behind these factors are the general economic situation and the economic circumstances of citizens, households, and enterprises.

 

In 2007, the average disposable income of a household in Finland was nearly EUR 37 000, about a third higher than in 1990[1]. However, the rise in the average household income has not been steady and the economic recession in the first half of the 1990s caused it to decrease.

 

In addition to economic factors, societal and cultural changes affect households. From 1966 to 2001 the number of households in Finland increased from 1 385 000 to 2 382 000, and this increase has continued steadily[2]. At the same time, the average number of persons per household has decreased from 3.34 to 2.15, a development that may contribute to the total amount of waste generated by households.

 

The consumption of natural resources by Finnish households has been studied using the MIPS (Material Input per Service Unit) concept. The use of natural resources is linked to the production of waste in households. The study therefore examined how different characteristics of households (e.g. size, age and income) affect the consumption of natural resources[3], which, in turn, affects the generation of waste.

 

One element in the prevention of waste is the principle of producer responsibility[4] in waste management. In Finland, producer responsibility is included in waste legislation and covers:

 

·         electronic and electrical appliances

·         batteries and accumulators

·         tyres from motor vehicles, other vehicles and equipment

·         cars, vans and comparable vehicles

·         newspapers, magazines, copy paper, and other comparable paper products

·         package.



[1] Income distribution statistics. Statistics Finland

[2] Number and size of households. Statistics Finland (in Finnish).

[3] Household MIPS Natural resource consumption of Finnish households and its reduction.  The Finnish Environment 43. Ministry of the Environment 2008

[4]  Producer responsibility in waste management. Pirkanmaa Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (2010)

The 2020 outlook

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 23 Nov 2010

 

There are no official specific quantitative outlooks for waste.

 

The National Waste Plan[1] sets targets for 2016. One of the main targets is to maintain the volume of municipal solid waste at the 2000 level and then achieve a decrease by 2016. Another target is to recycle 50 % of municipal waste, obtaining energy from 30 % and ensuring that no more than 20 % are disposed in landfills. Additional targets are:

• to recover all manure from farming activity

• to treat 90 % of sludge originating from sparsely-populated areas in sewage treatment plants and 10 % in farm biogas installations

• to recover materials or energy from 70 % of all construction and demolition waste

• to replace 5 % of the natural gravel and crushed rocks used in construction and other activities with industrial and/or mining waste

• to recover 100 % of municipal sewage.

 

A recent study[2] focused on the development of municipal waste. Six different scenarios were used to predict the amount of municipal waste in 2030, and the results ranged from 1.81 to 4.45 million tonnes of municipal waste; the amount in 2008 was 2.77 million tonnes. In the study, also the development of seven different fractions of the municipal waste was estimated using three of the six scenarios.



[1] Towards a recycling society The National Waste Plan for 2016 (in English) [Kohti kierrätysyhteiskuntaa Valtakunnallinen jätesuunnitelma vuoteen 2016 (in Finnish)]

[2] Moliis K., Teerioja, N. & Ollikainen, M.: Ennuste yhdyskuntajätteen kehityksestä vuoteen 2030. University of Helsinki, Department of Economics and Management. Discussion Papers n:o 41. Helsinki 2009 (in Finnish)

Existing and planned responses

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 23 Nov 2010

 

A comprehensive description of waste and waste-related legislation, policies and instruments is set out in the Country Fact Sheet for Finland on the website of the European Topic Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production. The national objectives, in line with EU policies and other international activities, aim to prevent the generation of waste, contribute to the reuse of waste and reduce the adverse effects of waste management. Finnish legislation also covers some issues not yet addressed by EU legislation and, in some cases, the limits and standards are stricter than those applied in the EU are.

 

The main objectives of the National Waste Plan for 2016 are as follows:

 

Finland’s waste policy specifically aims to prevent waste and reduce its negative effects on human health and the environment. To meet this objective it is important to:

 

• prevent the generation of waste

• promote the reuse of waste

• promote the biological recovery of waste and the recycling of materials

• promote the use of waste unsuitable for recycling as energy

• ensure that the treatment and disposal of waste does not cause harmful impacts.

 

Waste management goals and the policy instruments required to achieve these goals come under eight categories:

 

1. Increasing waste prevention by promoting material efficiency

2. Increasing recycling

3. Promoting the management of hazardous substances in the context of waste

4. Reducing the harmful climatic impact of waste management

5. Reducing the negative health and environmental impact of waste management

6. Improving and clarifying the organisation of waste management

7. Developing expertise in the waste sector

8. Establishing criteria for safe and well-managed transfrontier waste shipments

 

One of the main targets is to maintain the volume of municipal solid waste at the 2000 level and then achieve a decrease by 2016. Another target is to recycle 50 % of municipal waste, obtaining energy from 30 % and ensuring that no more than 20 % are disposed in landfills.

 

Additional targets are:

 

• to recover all manure from farming activity

• to treat 90 % of sludge originating from sparsely-populated areas in sewage treatment plants and 10 % in farm biogas installations

• to recover materials or energy from 70 % of all construction and demolition waste

• to replace 5 % of the natural gravel and crushed rocks used in construction and other activities with industrial and/or mining waste

• to recover 100 % of municipal sewage.

 

The plan suggests that industrial sectors should negotiate sector-specific agreements to promote material efficiency and that these agreements should set targets for waste prevention and recycling.

 

The National Waste Plan includes a separate national waste prevention programme.

 

A monitoring programme will be established to assess the implementation and impacts of the national plan. The programme will provide a list of indicators and steering instruments and the monitoring will mainly be based on waste sector statistics compiled by Statistics Finland. An interim report based on the monitoring programme will be published in 2010 and 2013.

 

In addition to the National Plan, most of the former 13 regional environmental centres had local waste plans. On 1 January 2010, the regional environmental centres merged with employment and economic centres, road districts, regional environmental centres and state provincial offices to form 15 Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment. These new centres will now administer local waste plans.

 

Waste sector legislation is due to be revised in full and proposals are expected to be ready in September 2010[1].

 

Much of Finland’s waste legislation can be accessed in Finlex, the database of Finnish legislation (http://www.finlex.fi/en/laki) using the search word ‘waste’.



[1] Jätealan lainsäädännön kokonaisuudistus, Finnish Environmental Administration (in Finnish).

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The country assessments are the sole responsibility of the EEA member and cooperating countries supported by the EEA through guidance, translation and editing.

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