Waste - State and impacts (Finland)

SOER 2010 Common environmental theme (Deprecated)
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Waste - State and Impacts
Waste Waste
Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 11 May 2020


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)


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).


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