In a circular economy resources are reused and recycled to create closed systems, minimizing the resource input and creation of waste. Materials and products are designed to keep as high value as possible for as long as possible. Materials circulate in system even after their end of life as a recycled and recovered resource. Circular business models can create new jobs, give a competitive edge, increase welfare and promote environmental sustainability. For consumers circular businesses can bring more sustainable and innovative products and services, which can both save money and increase the quality of life.
Helsinki Region Environmental Services (HSY) promote a circular economy by producing information and indicators describing circular activity progress in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. In addition to promoting more effective material recycling, we produce data of the regional recycling rate.
Picture 1: HSY operates in the circular economy.
Amount of waste and the recycling rate
A transition towards a circular economy requires a more effective recycling of materials and municipal solid waste. Municipal solid waste includes household waste and to that similar waste from other sources, such as commerce, offices, public institutions and selected municipal services. It also includes bulky waste and is not restricted to waste collected by municipal authorities. The European Union has set a target of 60 % by 2030 for the recycling rate of municipal solid waste.
Households and the public sector have good possibilities to influence the promotion of material efficiency and circular economy by reducing consumption, purchasing sustainable products and services, and by minimizing the amount of waste and by recycling. HSY works actively with both information and education services, as well as with regulatory means in order to increase awareness and recycling in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. HSY has set a target of reaching a 60 % recycling rate by the year 2025.
Picture 2: Amount of municipal solid waste and the recycling rate 2012-2018. In 2018 720 000 tons of waste was generated in the capital region and Kirkkonummi. This means around 595 kg per capita. The total amount of municipal solid waste increases, but per capita in the trend somewhat decreasing. Around 50 % of the municipal solid waste is recycled.
Picture 3: Amount of waste from households and the recycling rate 2012-2018. In 2018 households in the region generated 332 000 tons of waste, which is 275 kg per capita. Around 45 % of the household waste is recycled.
Production, consumption and reuse
Circular economy is not only about recycling the produced waste. It is a new economic model in which the production and consumption are designed so that no waste is produced, and the materials keep at their highest value for as long as possible. Moving to a circular economy requires changes throughout the entire value chain including design, production and consumption. In a circular economy the consumption is based on using services, such as sharing, renting and reuse of products, rather than owning things.
The promotion of reuse
is only at an early stage both in Finland and worldwide. Secondhand stores and recycling centers are doing good work in this sector, but opportunities for expanding their activities are often small because of limited resources. As a part of the project 6Aika: Future circular economy hubs in Finland (www.circhubs.fi
) Helsinki Region Environmental Services (HSY), Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), Tampere University, Suomen Kiertovoima KIVO ry, Lounais-Suomen Jätehuolto Oy (LSJH) and Kiertokaari Oy created a report on the quantities of reuse and reuse related business opportunities in Finland. The main target of the report was to evaluate the quantities of selected products directed to reuse in Finland's six largest city regions as well as nationally.
Picture 4: The number of flea markets and reuse quantities per capita in Helsinki Metropolitan Area, Oulu, Tampere and Turku. (SYKE 2018)