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Recycling is worth it

Wastes are not only the end point of consumption, but also a valuable raw material. Sorting and recycling of waste is therefore very important.
A person lifting electronic devices from a plastic box into a sorting container.
© Adobe Stock

Sorting and recycling of waste can sometimes feel like a minor act in your everyday lifeIf you take a closer look, every banana peel correctly sorted into biowaste and every pizza box sorted as cardboard is valuable.

Did you know that in 2020, the biowaste thrown into mixed waste would have provided fuel for 80 000 biogas cars for a year ? Or that cardboard fibre can be used up to 25 times and glass recycled endlessly?

Waste is not only the end point of consumption, but increasingly a valuable raw material. Companies may for instance  utilizee the metals in used batteries as a raw material for fertilisers.

Tips for recycling 

Think carefully before you buy – is the product really necessary?

Could you prefer products made from recycled material, buy second-hand, borrow, or rent? Buy products that use little packaging materials.

Reduce food waste.

Plan your grocery shopping for the week in advance. By using leftovers, you minimise the amount of food waste in your home. Food can also be frozen for later use if you have bought too much.

Sort the waste and deliver it to a collection point.

This ensures that the materials are recycled into new products and that you burden the environment less. Regional sorting instructions can be found, for example, on Kivo's website: Regional biowaste sorting instructions.

Recycling saves natural resources and prevents emissions that accelerate climate change

Waste ends up being recovered when it is sorted. Waste is a valuable raw material and recycling has many positive environmental impacts. The production of new products from waste-based raw materials is less environmentally burdening than the use of primarymaterials 

Sorted plastic packaging are converted into recycled raw material, which is used to produce for example  plastic shopping bags and cleaning equipment. Sorted glass is processed and delivered as a raw material to glass packaging factories. Despite long transport distances, recycling of glass is more environmentally friendly than making completely new glass, and glass can be recycled indefinitely.

Recycled cardboard is used to make raw material  for corrugated board , packaging board and packaging paper, laminated paper and core board. Metal packaging is crushed, after which the material is a smeltable raw material for the steel industry. The quality of the metal does not deteriorate during recycling, so it can be recycled indefinitely. Aluminium and copper are also recycled.

Biowaste is anaerobically digested in a biogas plant or composted. Anaerobic digestion of biowaste produces biogas which is used as fuel. Composted biowaste produces soil improvements that can for instance be used in landscaping. The solid residue from anaerobic digestion can also be used as soil improvements after composting.

How waste management works in Finland – watch the video!

Waste is a valuable resource for businesses

The value of waste as a raw material will increase in the future. For example, the need for waste based phosphorus as fertiliser increases as primary phosphorus reserves decrease. In Finland, the industry already uses recycled metal, waste oils and paper waste imported from abroad. For example, waste electrical and electronic equipment contains a lot of valuable metals, and the ways and possibilities to recover them are still being studied.

Recycling needs to be further improved

The recycling rate of municipal solid waste – waste generated by households and services – should reach 55 per cent in EU countries by 2025 and 65 per cent by 2035. The recycling rate of municipal waste in Finland stood at 42 per cent in 2020. Since there is still a long way to reach the set targets, all the efforts to make sorting and recycling more efficient are important.

Household waste refers to municipal solid waste produced at homes, such as biowaste, cardboard, paper, plastic, glass, metal, and mixed waste. Household waste is taken to a property-specific collection point and sorted into appropriate waste bins.. If your property only has a mixed waste bin, the sorted fractions must be taken to a regional waste collection point or waste station. Return bottles and cans are always taken to a bottle return machine at a grocery store.


Finnish Environment Institute (Syke)