The Finnish scenario of waste management

Finland has one of the most effective systems of waste management in the world. This neighbor’s experience is becoming very relevant in Russia today.

The regulation on separate waste collection has been enacted in Finland no less than 40 years ago in 1979. Today the law is harmonized with rather strict regulations of the European Union – the major EU Directives on waste management were published in 1999, 2006 and 2008. For instance, in Finland there is a tax for landfilling waste, which has grown from €15 per ton of waste in 1995 to €70 in 2016. Finns separate waste into six fractions. The majority of towns and cities have containers for paper, metals, glass and biodegradable waste, hazardous waste collection stations, and reusable tare can be returned in shops for exchange value. Citizens pay to municipalities for waste collection, and these payments are relatively high – around €200 annually.

The municipalities are responsible for waste treatment. In 2016, according to Eurostat, out of 2,768 million toms of municipal solid waste (MSW) in Finland only 3% (89 thousand tons) was landfilled. This is one of the lowest levels of landfilling in the world, a kind of benchmark for other countries, even in Europe. 42% of MSW was processed (including composting), and 55% was incinerated. By 2020 the rate of waste processing must reach 50% according to the EU regulations. In comparison to the results of 2016 additional 220 thousand tons must be processed. This is not an easy task, since already in 2016 100% of metal and electronic waste, as well as 99,8% of glass waste and 88% of organic waste was recycled. Now a new form of taxation in considered in addition to the aforementioned tax on landfilling – tax on waste incineration, which must in turn stimulate processing waste.

Regulation of this sphere in Russia only begins to work. On 31st of December, 2017 the President of the Russian Federation signed the law on implementing norms of separate waste collection. There is no doubt that this decision should have been made long ago. Sine 2000 the volume of waste in Russia continues to grow: out of 43 countries which submit data to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), in 2000 Russia was 11th from the bottom of the list with 354 kg of waste per person, while in 2012 it was 11th from the start of the list with 562 kg of waste per person. Since in 2014 the process of Russia’s entry into OECD was suspended, Russia stopped sending its waste data to them. The main issue today lies in the fact that the almost single way of waste utilization in Russia is landfilling. 96% of MSW is landfilled. At least a third of landfills doesn’t comply with the current sanitary norms, the experts of International Finance Corporation claim.

Experience exchange

Finland’s experience on collection and utilization of MSW can be actively used in Russia. There is a successful example of implementing Finnish technologies of waste management in Russia, which is a system of separate waste collection in Dubna. A Finnish company group Lassila & Tikanoja Oyj (L&T) started working in Russia back in 2004, and in September of 2010 they commissioned waste sorting complex in Dubna, while starting a co-project of separate waste collection with the town’s administration. According to Sergey Andronov, vice general director of L&T in Russia, the two-container system used by them proved its efficiency. The share of waste sent for processing has increased from 5 to 20%. Waste from the so-called wet containers (coloured grey) is sent straight to landfilling. Waste from the dry containers (coloured blue, and filled with all kinds of waste which can be processed – paper, glass, board, metals) – which makes up 40% of all waste of the town, is sent to a waste sorting complex in Dubna. Waste which can be processed is then sent to specialized companies, and 10 agreements are signed with them.

A very important activity which determined the efficiency of this separate waste collection project in Dubna, as Sergey Andronov claims, is explanatory work. One of examples thereof is a successful realization of a program called “Ecoschool”, which was developed for all Dubna’s educational facilities. It includes a cycle of ecology lessons and lectures, competitions on waste paper and PET-package (made up of polyethylene terephthalate, a kind of polyether thermoplastic) collection, planting trees, guided tour for students to the waste sorting complex, done by the L&T company.

In another Moscow suburb, Lobnya, there is another Finnish-related enterprise called “Petromax”, which belongs to a company called Kuusakoski Group and recycles one of waste fractions – electrical scrap (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment, WEEE), and performs automobile utilization as well. Finnish manufacturer of containers for waste collection Molok has been on the Russian market for 10 years. Plastic containers which are put into the ground (for about 60% of their total height) are spacious, hermetic and retain foul smells. According to the company’s representative in Russia Damir Budenets, more than 3500 of these containers were installed in Russia since 2008. The majority of them are located in Moscow and Saint Petersburg and their suburban areas, but there are also installations in Syktyvkar, Surgut, Perm, Samara and Kandalaksha. In a Closed Administrative-Territorial Unit “Zarechnyy” in the Penza region the production of Molok was used in a successful experiment of switching to separate waste collection. Damir Budenets explained that in order to work with such containers, a number of issues pertaining to technical equipment of transport companies must be solved, in particular an automobile equipped with a loader crane is required.