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Plastic packaging waste collection pilot in Finland

Updated last: 4 July 2014

A pilot concerning plastic packaging waste collection from households was conducted in 2012 in Tampere and Kuopio city areas in Finland. This pilot was financed by Environmental Ministry of Finland, Packaging association of Finland, packaging producer organizations and Federation of Finnish Commerce. The pilot was part of preparing for upcoming legislation on packaging waste producer responsibility. The operating parties in the pilot were local waste management companies in two pilot regions (Tampere and Kuopio).

In this pilot plastic packaging waste containers were added in 10 drop-off collection points in each area. Drop-off collection points are unmanned waste collection points meant for source-separated recyclables from households nearby. These so called eco-points are located in public areas, often connected with supermarkets or market places. Most eco-points have containers for paper, cardboard, glass and metal packages. Materials collected at eco-points are either recycled or utilized as material.

Objective

The pilot started in the beginning of 2012 and the research part ended in the end of August 2012. The purpose of this pilot was to find out people´s willingness on plastic waste recycling, how the take back scheme from consumers would be most efficient, the environmental benefits and economic consequences. As a part of this pilot, it was possible to monitor the quantity and quality of plastic packaging waste from households. Plastic producers also wanted to test different kinds of logistic methods during the pilot.

The quality of the plastic collected from households varied a lot. There was about 20-25% of impurities in the collected material. In this case, the purpose was to collect packages only, and everything else was considered unwanted material. The amount of household waste is 176 kg/inhabitant/year. About 8-10% of this waste is different plastics. In theory, up to 17.6 kg of plastics per inhabitant per year can be separated from household waste.

Plastic packages collected during this pilot were weighed and separated into different polymer types. Some polymer types could be recycled but most of the material ended up in energy recovery.

 Tampere Nyhed - Billede 1 Tampere Nyhed Billede 2

Figure 1 and 2. Eco-point with plastic packaging waste containers (left) and collected plastic packaging waste from households (right).  

Conclusion

The main objective of this pilot is to find a rational and cost-effective recycling possibility for the collected plastic waste before a collection scheme is constructed in full scale. This pilot showed that collecting the plastic material is not a problem. A bring scheme is working well and people are willing to separate their plastics at home. The environmental benefit of collecting plastic packaging waste is that the material collected does not end up in landfills. For now, residual waste which includes most of the plastic is landfilled in Tampere region. A landfill ban will be implemented in 2016. This ban forbids any organic material, including plastic, to be landfilled. The new Tammervoima incineration plant is under construction and it will be operating at the beginning of the year 2016. Tammervoima is a CHP-plant and it is owned by TRSWM (49%) and Tampere City Electricity Works (51%). At the beginning of the year 2016 all residual waste will be incinerated in the Tampere area.

Recent studies state, that from an environmental point of view, the plastic packaging waste should be collected separately. However, the economical point of view states the opposite. It is not economically reasonable to collect plastic waste separately for incineration when residual waste is also incinerated. There are currently no plastic recycling plants in Finland, and the only available treatment for plastic packaging waste is incineration in cement mills or co-combustion plants.

The upcoming full producer responsibility for packaging will change the collection scheme. In the future the collection must be organized by the producers and costs will be included in the price of products.

More information:

http://www.pyr.fi/tiedote-pyr-ekopistepilotti-touko13.html

http://www.pirkanmaan-jatehuolto.fi/pjoy/ekopistepilotti

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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