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