Lumber was loaded onto a trailer at a wood storage in Helsinki in August 2021. Finland is seeking to achieve a recycling rate of 70 per cent for construction and demolition waste by 2027, after postponing the target by seven years due to lack of progress between 2018 and 2021, reports YLE. (Markku Ulander – Lehtikuva)


FINLAND has pushed back its goal of achieving a recycling rate of 70 per cent for construction and demolition waste from 2020 to 2027, after seeing only a three-percentage-point increase to 57 per cent between 2018 and 2021, reports YLE.

The goal was adopted under the waste framework directive of the EU.

“There are big regional differences in Finland, but some municipalities have reached their targets – even exceeded them,” Hanna Salmenperä, a senior adviser at the Finnish Environment Institute (Syke), told YLE on Tuesday.

An excellent recycling rate was achieved, for example, in the demolition of a block of flats in Mäntsälä, Central Finland.

“Ninety-nine per cent of the material was utilised, but the actual recycling rate, meaning the share of concrete and steel, was 96 per cent of the project. There was also energy waste that was suitable for burning. It isn’t granted recycled status, but it could be utilised,” recounted Jarno Salminen, the managing director of Maansiirto Harry Mäkelä.

Asbestos made up most of the waste that was landfilled as part of the demolition project.

The family-owned earth-moving company has adopted a front-loaded approach to raising the recycling rate in part because contractors that fail to reach the 70-per-cent rate are disqualified from projects by the City of Jyväskylä.

Circular economy targets for demolition projects have been raised across Europe. The European Commission defines a circular economy as a system that maintains the value of products, materials and resources for as long as possible and minimised the generation of waste.

YLE summarised that the objective of demolition projects is to process and channel waste streams in the right order, the top priority being reducing the amount of harmful waste and waste in general. The waste that is generated should primarily be processed so that it can be re-used or, if re-use is impossible, recycled or utilised for energy generation, for example.

If no kind of re-utilisation is possible, the waste should be disposed of according to regulations.

“Re-use can be accomplished pretty well for buildings with concrete structures. Their mass is so great that sorting and re-using them alone at an excavation site, for example, pushes the percentage over 70,” Janne Tervo, a land-use engineer at the City of Jyväskylä, stated to YLE on Tuesday.

“The goal can be harder to reach if the demolished building doesn’t have a lot of concrete and steel,” added Salminen.

A fully circular demolition project is not feasible due to the presence of various harmful substances, such as asbestos, chemicals, oil, electrical and electronics waste, impregnated wood and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon compounds.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT