Finland has been quite successful in its recycling of packaging. More than half of all packaging is now recycled. For a number of years, the recycling rates for carton, glass and metal packaging have exceed the targets set by the Finnish government and the EU, and the target for the recycling of plastic packaging has also been met. The new packaging decree that entered into force in summer 2014 sets stricter targets for 2016 and 2020.
Firms are responsible for recycling and the collection of consumer packaging
In Finland, the recycling of packaging is carried out by firms that pack products in Finland or import packed products for the Finnish market and have a turnover of EUR 1 million or more. These firms have so called producer responsibility. Producer responsibility means that packaging placed in the Finnish market must be recycled i.e. materials must be reused in the production of new products, according to the targets stipulated in law. This responsibility is based on the EU and Finnish legislation.
Firms that have producer responsibility have also been responsible for organising the collection of consumer packaging in Finland as from January 2016. The Rinki eco take-back point network launched its operations at the same time. Consumers can return used carton, glass, metal and plastic packaging to the Rinki eco take-back points.
A small action that makes a big difference
In Finland it is companies that bear the main responsibility for recycling, but individuals can also make a big difference.
You too can minimise the burden on the environment that is caused by waste: sort your packaging waste according to our instructions and bring it to a Rinki eco take-back point for recycling.
Every little act helps – even by one individual – so that recycling works as a whole efficiently and reasonably. The more people who sort their packaging waste correctly, the more good material can be recovered. This is good for the environment since recycling helps to reduce the amount of new material required for the creation of new products.
Recycling saves energy and natural resources. It also reduces carbon dioxide emissions, which are harmful for the environment, and the amount of waste taken to landfill.
This is how consumer packaging is recycled to become raw material for a new product
It is worthwhile to sort and return your packaging waste to a Rinki eco take-back point. Packaging waste that is sorted correctly and returned to the take-back point is reused as raw material for new products, i.e. it is recycled. Only packaging waste that is sorted correctly can be recycled.
Where does packaging waste go from the Rinki eco take-back points?
1. Sorted packaging is brought to Rinki eco take-back points...
2. …where it is collected and taken to reception terminals, which also act as intermediate storage…
3. …and then to facilities that reuse packaging waste and where it is turned into secondary raw material or new products.
4. A new product made of recycled raw material saves energy and the environment.
In the recycling process, packaging waste material is used as raw material for new products. Recycling is an important part of a circular economy – it helps to minimise loss of materials and creation of waste, plus it saves energy and natural resources.
Carton is taken from Rinki eco take-back point to intermediate storage, where it is baled. The bales are then taken to a carton factory to be used as raw material. At the factory, carton is separated from plastic and aluminium coatings.
Carton fibre is used for tube board, among other things, and some carton is used as raw material for new packaging products. Other uses for recycled carton include the production of corrugated cardboard, packaging board, envelopes, laminating paper and many types of cores.
The coating separated from the fibre mainly contains plastic. The coating is dried and taken to a power plant to be used as energy. Some of the aluminium coating on carton packaging is separated and reused as raw material for new products.
Glass packaging waste is turned into new glass packaging, i.e. glass bottles and jars. Glass can be recycled for an unlimited number of times for new packaging without any deterioration in its quality or purity.
Glass packaging waste is transported from a Rinki eco take-back point to intermediate storage; there are 38 such facilities in Finland. Glass that is sorted correctly and meets all quality requirements is taken from intermediate storage to a port and on to England and Netherlands, where it is used in the production of new glass bottles and jars. They are no longer produced in Finland.
It is important that glass is sorted carefully according to Rinki's instructions. The container for glass packaging should only be used for glass bottles and jars that are suitable for recycling. For example, the material collected must not contain any glass used by the healthcare sector, ceramics, porcelain, heat-resistant glassware (e.g. oven dishes) or plate, mirror or window glass.
This type of glass that is unsuitable for recycling has applications in earthworks, e.g. in field and road structures. Applications in construction are not, however, classified as recycling.
Around half of the raw materials used in the manufacturing of new metal products is recycled. The quality of the metal does not deteriorate in the recycling process, and metal can be recycled almost endlessly.
Steel and aluminium packaging waste is turned into raw material for the metal industry in Finland and overseas. Recycled metal is used for new metal packages and other metal products such as bicycle frames, spades and car parts.
Recycling of plastic packaging saves energy in the production of plastic, and it also reduces the need to use oil.
Recycling of plastic packaging is a process with multiple phases. The material is turned into raw material, which the industry can use for manufacturing reprocessed plastic products. These include products such as plastic refuse sacks, bags, pipes and sheets.
Plastic packaging can also be used in the manufacturing of profiles of different sizes and lengths with a lifecycle of more than 50 years. Profiles can be used for outdoor furniture, boards, railings, traffic and noise barriers, fence posts and sawhorses.1
There are 1,850 Rinki eco take-back points, 500 of which also accept plastic packaging. To ensure successful recycling of plastic packaging, it is important that the plastic packaging waste brought to the take-back points is carefully sorted according to our instructions.
1 Fortum Oyj, wastesolutions.fortum.com