Waste Management in Finland
The Finnish waste management system is based on an integrated approach. Sustainable waste management is a combination of legislation, regulatory guidance and control measures, practices and incentives aimed at intensifying separate waste collection, technologies and environmental education. All these elements complement each other, making it possible to transform waste into a resource for a circular economy.
Finland’s waste management system has developed in close cooperation between municipalities, private companies involved in waste treatment and producer responsibility organizations. The leading role of municipalities in waste management formed the basis for the management of MSW, and ensured the availability of services under all circumstances.
Finland has moved from collecting waste and dumping it in landfills to reusing waste as raw materials and energy in a relatively short period of time. In the early 1990s, about 80% of MSW and construction waste was sent to landfills.
Now the landfilling of waste has practically stopped: in 2019, only about 0.7% of MSW went to landfills. At the same time, the share of waste disposal as raw materials has increased to 43%.
The development of technologies has expanded the possibilities of waste treatment, and waste recycling has become in many cases a profitable business.
The development of a circular economy is one of the priorities of Finnish and EU policy. The circular economy is a new economic model, the main purpose of which is the conservation of natural resources and the efficient and sustainable use of materials. Already in 2016, Finland published the world’s first roadmap for the circular economy, and in 2021 – a strategic program for promoting the circular economy. The goal of the program is to initiate a change that will create the basis of a new economy by 2035. The transition to a new model will require the development of new forms of cooperation, innovation and a change in attitude to waste, and thus creates new models of work and sustainable business.