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Legislation and instruments

Waste policy – general objectives and principles

The Finnish waste policy aims to promote the sustainable use of natural resources and to ensure that waste poses no harm to the environment or health. The waste policy of Finland is based on the European Union’s waste policy.


The principles of the EU and Finnish waste policies are:

  1. Prevention: The production and harmful impact of waste should be prevented and reduced whenever possible.
  2. Polluter pays: The producer of the waste pays all the waste management costs.
  3. Producer responsibility: Instead of waste manufacturers, the producers, and importers of specific product types bear the responsibility for the waste management of their products when they become waste.
  4. Precautionary principle: Potential risks caused by waste and waste management should be anticipated.
  5. Proximity principle: Waste should be treated as close as possible to its source.
  6. Self-sufficiency principle: The European Community and each of its Member States are self-sufficient in their waste management.


A key principle of waste management in the EU and Finland is the order of priority

  1. The priority is to prevent the production of waste.
  2. If the production of waste cannot be prevented, the waste must be prepared for reuse.
  3. If the waste cannot be reused, it must primarily be recycled as material and secondarily recovered as energy.
  4. Only if its recovery is not technically or economically feasible, waste can be disposed of in landfills.

Waste and Environmental Protection Acts

The waste legislation is largely based on EU legislation, but in some cases it is stricter. Finnish waste legislation covers all wastes except certain special types of waste, such as radioactive wastes.

General waste legislation in Finland consists of the Waste Act (646/2021) (WA), and the Waste Decree (978/202). The environmental impacts of wastes are also addressed in the legislation on environmental protection: the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) (527/2014) ( ), and the Environmental Protection Decree (713/2014). In addition, there are numerous government decrees and decisions on specific waste treatment, waste types or activities, and directly applicable EU regulations/decisions.

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