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A waste bunker in Vantaa.From a European perspective, Finland is comparatively mediocre at recycling waste. One fact in particular, however, stands out in the European Environment Agency's statistics publication.

"For ten years, we have not seen any development in the volumes of recycling community waste. Yet in all other European countries except Norway and Finland, recycling has become more efficient," the head of the center of consumption and production of Suomen Ympäristökeskus (Finnish Environment Institute), Professor Jyri Seppälä says.

On the other hand, household package waste made in households is manufactured in a manner that differs from that of the rest of Europe. Instead of plastic, Finland uses wood-based packaging, which means that plenty of paper, carton and cardboard materials accumulate.

"This is caused by the diverse lumber industry in Finland. Regarding these packaging mat erials, we are just below the average in comparison to Europe; but if their re-utilisation is taken into account, the percentage is high. We have a lot of wood-based materials that we can burn," Seppälä explains.

In the Finnish waste management, burning seems to have become central indeed. An EU directive has made it an obligation for member states to reduce the amount of waste taken to landfills. By 2016 the biodegradable waste will be prohibited in landfills. Finland responded to the requirements by building waste handling facilities where a large part of recyclable community waste ends up being burnt, and reused as energy.

Seppälä views that the burning of waste has gone into overdrive, without regard for the future and what the EU policy means in terms of raw waste material availability.

"In the future's rotation economy, minimising the use of new, virginal raw materials will be central. This requires not only enthusiasm about recycling but also a functioning infrastructure. It means that an item that ends up in recycling will be forwarded in the right way, for example re-utilised rather than burnt."

LEHTIKUVA / Vesa Moilanen
MTV 30 November. LINDA PUKKA

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