Finland is set to be one of the first countries to develop a fully circular plastics economy by 2030. Led by the country’s 2022 Plastic Reduction Roadmap, its ecosystem of plastic processing companies is set to revolutionise the global plastic waste problem through innovative R&D and technologies.
Only 16% of plastics globally are recycled making a fully circular plastics economy an urgent need. Plastics are estimated to make up one-fifth of all oil consumption by 2050 and black carbon, a by-product of burning plastic waste, has a global warming potential up to 5,000 times that of carbon dioxide.
To reverse the scale of the plastic problem, Finland has developed a systemic plastic processing industry made up of players in multiple sectors, from recycling to process. Its innovative businesses are now offering international governments and businesses the solutions needed to support the global need to reduce plastic pollution on a vast scale.
There is as much as 199 million tonnes of plastic in the world’s oceans. The amount of plastic waste in the Caribbean Sea has also been shown to increase the intensity of hurricanes. Two Finnish companies are helping international governments to clean global waters of plastic pollution. Working in South East Asia and Africa, RiverRecycle provides governments with the entire plastic removal value chain. It gathers plastic waste from rivers, recycling high value plastics or converting low quality items into mechanically recycled products or alternative energy forms through pyrolysis. The profits from which are then shared with the system to keep the circular process running. The aim is to establish 500 collection overall points.
In addition, Block Solutions has developed circularly made building blocks composed of between 50 and 100% recycled marine plastic to bring affordable, durable and sustainable housing in Rwanda, Uganda and Morocco so far.
As well as plastic clean up, Finland has developed a technology to recycle waste into virgin grade plastic, making the lifecycle of the product circular and infinite. Olefy Technologies, a by-product of Finland’s leading research institution, VTT, have developed a scalable technology to affordably extract over 70% of usable virgin grade plastics and raw chemical materials components from plastic waste in a single step – including low-quality single use plastic waste – set to make up nearly one-fifth of the global carbon budget by 2040.
“The scale of plastic waste around the world is a pressing global challenge with ramifications for our environment and humanity. Something must be done to reverse the tide of plastic pollution. Finland’s strong history developing sustainable solutions and world-class expertise have led to innovations and advanced technologies paving the way for a circular plastics economy. We are calling on businesses and governments around the world to work with Finnish business to protect our planet and our futures,” says Outi Suomi, Head of Bio and Circular Finland, Business Finland.
With 400 million tonnes of plastic waste produced every year, waste mismanagement is also a crucial part of the problem. In that sector, Griffin Refineries is supporting the United Arab Emirates on its mission to lower carbon emission by 25% by 2030. The brand converts waste collected from its holistic waste management solution into refused derived fuel (RDF) that is used to power Emirates cement plants, saving up to 30% in fuel costs. This process prevents 80% of the treated waste from entering landfills.
Similarly, Kuusakoski Oy’s plastic management solutions restore value to some of the most challenging forms of plastic waste, like electronic equipment. Last year alone the company prevented 1.49 million tonnes of CO2 emissions – equivalent to the annual emissions of over half a million cars.