There’s a war going on – with our trash!

They are now setting a new waste legislation in Finland. But, it doesn’t happen in a day or two, and there are few challenging things to settle on. One of them is money; let’s say couple hundred million euros.

Mr Risto Saarinen, the leading expert in waste issues in Finnish Environment Institute, says that we produce 70 million tons of waste in a year in Finland. Our municipal waste amount is about 2,5 million tons.

”There are over one billion euros moving with the waste”, tells Saarinen. “And I tell you that there are a couple hundred millions in the municipal waste too. And they have been arguing, or should I say there is a war going on, who is finally having the right to collect this garbage, and this money.”

After one year, in December 2010, Finland has the new legislation for waste management. The schedule is set by EU with the waste directive.

The coming waste directive has set new recycling targets as well. By 2020, member states of the European Union must recycle 50 percent of their household waste and 70 percent of their construction and demolition waste. About two thirds of the municipal waste is generated in households. Within service industry, the biggest waste producers are trade and healthcare sectors.

Several surveys indicate that Finns are eager to recycle but they need more information about the means and ways of re-using waste. There is something to start with and soon. Finns have already adopted the recycling of organic waste that forms one third of the household waste.

“The organic waste can be composted in plants or it can be decomposed. Depending on the processing method, the waste turns into energy or soil enrichment material. On dumping grounds it rots to methane which can be exploited as energy in gas plant”, clarifies Head of the Consultation and Communications Unit, Riitta-Liisa Hahtala.

In 2007, 26 percent of municipal waste was recycled in Finland. So, there is still a lot of catching up to do. Nowadays, 60 percent of municipal waste ends up on dumping grounds. That has to change.

Still, the fact remains that amount of waste is growing each passing year. The amount of waste has correlated with the growth of gross domestic product but European Union aims to alter it. The situation is already changed in the Helsinki metropolitan area, also called YTV area.

Markus Haapamäki
Kirsi Ristaniemi
Annette Saksman

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