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Finland tackles climate change with circular economy

Finland tackles climate change with circular economy

SUNDAY, June 11, 2017

COMMITTED TO tackling climate change, Finland has set the stage for creating a value chain through by pursuing a circular economy with both public and private companies starting to implement projects aimed at minimising the use of virgin resources and maximising their value.

“The climate change issue challenges us very seriously and a polluted environment is a serious problem. We need to change the way we run our economy. That’s why we have created a road map and we’re working to implement it,” Kimmo Tiilikainen, minister of environment, said last week when the country hosted the World Circular Economy Forum 2017 in Helsinki. The road map being pushed by Finland since last year ranges from a sustainable food system to transportation and logistics.
The country encourages consumers to choose food that has been produced through wiser use of raw materials, which starts at the primary agricultural production stage through to the recycling of nutrients. 
The second focus area is forest-based loops, by which the country wants to concentrate on enhancing global competitiveness in the forest industry with new commercial products, services, cooperation models and digital technology.
The third focus area is technical loops, aimed at minimising the use of virgin raw materials and maximising the length of material and product life cycles. The fourth area – covering transportation and logistics – entails a seamless, smart system that uses fossil-free fuels. The fifth component is the need for common action between legislators, companies, universities and research institutions, consumers and citizens, and vibrant regions in order to achieve systematic change. 
Finland apparently has a consensus to embark on the sustainability of business and way of life.
“It is not hard to get businesses on board and many of them have already designed their products, services, business models and whole value chain of production or service from a point of view of circular economy,” said Mikko Kosonen, president of SITRA, an independent fund for the future of Finland. One of them is, which provides an application for both consumers who want cheap good meals, and restaurants which want to sell food at cheap prices, that would otherwise be dump as waste at the end of the day. 
The Resq-club has won the Circular Economy Award from the city of Helsinki this year. The Resq-club claims that more than 200,000 meals were saved from over 1,000 restaurants since January 2016, or 40,000 kilograms of food, equivalent to carbon dioxide emissions of 5 million kilolitres. Restaurants and consumers in 20 big cities around the world currently use the app, according to its executives.
A chef who runs a first of its kind food waste restaurant named Loop serves customers food made from raw ingredients which super markets tend to dump as waste. Loop restaurant gets its vegetables, mushrooms and other raw ingredients for free, enabling them to offer meals at a low price with acceptable quality and hygiene.
Matti Lievonen, president and chief executive officer of Neste, a leading refinery oil company in Nordic countries, said his company is transitioning from oil refining to the circular economy and it has started to produce biodiesel, bioplastic and other renewable products. The company creates a renewable value chain and supplies its products to many corporations, including Ikea. Of the net sales worth 11.7 billion euros, the company last year made profit from renewable products of 469 million euros more than the profit generated by fossil fuels. 
Two companies, Soilfood Ltd & Ovidja Power Ltd, pioneers in environmentally friendly food and energy, are developing a model farm for bio-methanation and nutrient recycling by preserving diversity of plant and animal in their farm. Ovidja owns a patent for a biomethane reactor which uses microbes to produce methane gas. Asked why the companies had come up with these ideas, Saara Kankaanrinta, co-founder the of the two companies, said that “it is a must and Finland, a small country with 5 million population, can move fast and be a pioneer in the circular economy”.