The Finnish forest industry is rapidly decreasing its landfill waste volumes, and this trend will continue through more efficient use of side streams, predicts Maija Heikkinen, Senior Environmental Adviser at the Finnish Forest Industries Federation.
“At the beginning of this year, Finland banned the dumping of organic waste at landfills. We hope that new legislation will also facilitate the fabrication of new products from side streams. This would make sound business sense as well. Forest industry companies are often the ones to pay for others exploiting their side streams as raw material.”
The forest industry’s total landfill waste volume in 2013 amounted to 114,000 tonnes. The latest statistics for 2014 confirm that this total decreased to 92,000 tonnes. This welcome trend is set to continue in coming years. According to Heikkinen, the forest industry’s side streams could be used more effectively in fields such as landscaping, but legislation has posed obstacles.
“When the Finnish Land Use and Building Act is amended, we will try to ensure that we can increase the use of various recovered materials. Also, threshold limit values should be revised so that ash can be used more widely for maintaining and building forest roads.”
Boosting Europe’s circular economy
In December 2015, the EU Commission published a new action plan for the circular economy. The aim is to close the loop of product lifecycles through more efficient recycling and reuse, bringing benefits to both the environment and the economy.
“From the perspective of the forest industries, the new action plan places slightly more emphasis on the bioeconomy and the use of renewable raw materials, which is important for our industry. However, it still seems to focus on the recycling of non-renewable natural resources,” says Heikkinen.
The new action plan also includes measures to monitor the circular economy and measure the use of resources. “We hope these indicators will take into account the difference between renewable and non-renewable natural resources. This is genuinely a big challenge.”
The Commission’s action plan includes some 50 proposals to boost Europe’s circular economy in coming years. This includes actions in the fields of production, product design, waste, public procurement and consumer information.