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State of the environment

Circular economy

Society wants to move from over-consumption of natural resources to a circular economy. Change is under way, but it is still moving slowly.
Kivikko waste station in Helsinki.
© Kai Widell.

Finns use more than their share of the planet’s natural resources. The rate of consumption is four times higher than the rate of regeneration of natural resources and the carrying capacity of nature. The majority of the materials used flow through society and end up as waste. The material flow puts a strain on the environment at all stages, from the extraction of raw materials and manufacturing of products to the treatment of waste. Some raw materials are also becoming scarce.

Circular economy as the solution

The problems related to the use of materials are solved through the circular economy. In a circular economy, the one-way flow of material is abandoned. Instead, the materials and products are reused and kept in circulation for as long as possible. The circular economy ensures the sufficiency of raw materials and reduces the environmental damage caused by the use of materials.

Finland has taken the first steps towards a circular economy, but a lot remains to be done. Among other things, the ever-increasing use of raw materials and the increasing volume of waste are evidence of poor progress. Less than half of the municipal waste is recovered as material, while the majority is incinerated.

However, the outlook is promising. Society is broadly embracing the principles of the circular economy and developing its practices. The use of natural resources is being adjusted and the loss of raw materials avoided. Waste recovery and recycling have already been intensified and will be further improved. The circular economy rate of materials is expected to double by 2035.

Related topics

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Sustainable circular and bioeconomy:


Finnish Environment Institute (Syke)
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