PET plastic bottles are crushed for recycling. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

International news

The global surge in plastic waste generation over the last two decades has become a significant environmental concern, with only a meager 10% of plastic waste being appropriately recycled. Finland's Climate Fund is taking a proactive stance in addressing this issue by approving a €4.2 million capital loan for Finnish Wastewise Group Oy. The loan will be instrumental in funding the company's facility investment program, which aims to substantially increase the reuse of hard-to-recycle plastics.

Wastewise Group Oy plays a crucial role in completing the plastics-recycling value chain by expanding its chemical recycling plant capacity to handle challenging mixed plastic waste. Through their innovative pyrolysis technology, they can convert previously non-recyclable plastic waste into new raw materials for the plastics industry, replacing the need for incineration.

Kaisa Suvilampi, Managing Director of Wastewise Group, proudly states that their proprietary chemical recycling technology opens up new possibilities for using recycled plastic raw materials in various applications, including food-grade plastic and medical uses. Unlike mechanically processed plastic raw materials, the chemically recycled plastic raw material retains its features and is identical to virgin raw materials, making it highly suitable for demanding applications.

The unique technology developed by Wastewise is particularly effective for dealing with hard-to-recycle plastics. The pyrolysis oil produced in the process can replace crude oil in plastic and chemical production, effectively reducing the reliance on virgin materials. In a groundbreaking demonstration, Wastewise utilized their pyrolysis technology to produce cross-linked polyethylene pipes (PEX) from chemically recycled PEX waste, in collaboration with partners Neste (pyrolysis oil refiner), Borealis (recycled plastic manufacturer), and Uponor (PEX pipe manufacturer).

Toni Mikkonen, Director of Investments at the Climate Fund, emphasizes that tackling plastic waste challenges requires various strategies, and circular economy impact is a significant aspect guiding the Climate Fund's funding decisions. He lauds Wastewise as a Finnish pioneer in chemical recycling and is delighted to support their investment program, which will significantly expand their business and further contribute to a sustainable future.

Wastewise Group emerged in 2022 from the merger of Suomen Kiertoketju Oy and Wastewise Oy. The company has been tirelessly developing its proprietary technology for the chemical recycling of plastics and rubber. Their operational chemical plastic-recycling plant in Nokia is currently undergoing expansion, and new recycling facilities are also being constructed throughout Finland.

Wastewise's pyrolysis oil has earned the prestigious international ISCC Plus sustainability certificate and is refined by their partner, Neste, into raw materials for new plastic polymers. The positive impact of Wastewise's efforts is significant, with an estimated emissions reduction of approximately 1.9 tons of CO2-eq per tonne of plastic processed in the recycling plant. One pyrolysis plant is projected to generate an annual emissions reduction of about 20 tons of CO2-eq, with an estimated cumulative emissions reduction potential of 0.4 million tons of CO2-eq over ten years.

The facility investment program's total cost amounts to roughly €12 million. Alongside the €4.2 million capital loan from the Climate Fund, the investment will also be financed by equity funding from Taaleri Sijoitus Oy, a group of domestic individuals and family-owned investment companies. Additionally, an investment aid of €0.85 million has been granted for the expansion of the Nokia facility.

The €4.2 million capital loan from the Climate Fund will play a vital role in constructing new recycling lines, enhancing the circular economy's capabilities for hard-to-recycle plastics. The loan carries an interest rate aligned with market rates and includes a conversion right, demonstrating the Climate Fund's commitment to fostering sustainable practices and driving positive environmental change.