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Blog 22.03.2022

Finland is a forerunner in plastic waste technologies

The growing amount of plastic waste causes the challenges to society – but also opportunities. Bio and Circular Finland program published an offering material that showcases Finnish solutions tackling the plastics issue.
Ulf-Erik Widd

Ulf-Erik Widd works as an Account Lead in the Accounts & Industry Management EPI unit at Business Finland. He is also a member of the Sustainable Manufacturing Global Industry Leadership team.

ulf-erik.widd (at)
+358 50 430 1813

Globally plastic waste is more littering than any other problem. When plastic ends up in landfills and oceans, it breaks down into tiny plastic particles, microplastics. However, in developed countries such as Finland, this is not much of an issue due to well executed waste collecting systems. Finland also utilizes industrial waste rather well and recycles materials efficiently. In reusing consumer plastics, on the other hand, is plenty of room for development.

Finland has numerous possibilities to solve the plastics challenge, through both the recycling and replacing materials.

Finland has a strong strategic base: it published the National Roadmap to Circular Economy in 2016 as the first country in the world, and a National Plastics Roadmap in 2018. Also, Bio and Circular Finland program has taken exporting plastic solutions as one of its focus areas now during its final operational year.

Europe is moving towards resource efficient circular economy

Plastic is a resource efficient material. With different barriers and other solutions, it is possible to significantly lengthen the shelf life of products, without using preservatives. Consequently, longer transportation times are possible, and it prevents food waste. When the plastic product comes to the end of its life, and becomes waste, its raw material can be used again.

Finland has broad knowledge in technical packaging solutions, such as barriers and cartons used in B2B food industry.

We have also been forerunners in sustainable solutions for a long time, which has boosted our packaging industry. This knowhow has translated into strong knowledge in developing demanding chemical and mechanical plastic recycling technologies.    

New innovations in plastic recycling

Recycling plastics is not easy as the qualities of the material often decline during each round. Finnish plastics and packaging industry is now under the pressure to find solutions for keeping consumer waste and materials better in circulation. Especially chemical recycling holds opportunities and potential to new technologies.

Not long ago, we got to read how Neste Oyj made a great step forward and started to liquify consumer plastic waste: Chemical recycling of plastic waste leapt in Porvoo. Neste uses the output as raw material replacing fossil-based feedstock. Setting high expectations for cooperation makes building value chains possible. Great examples of this work are Suomen Uusiomuovi Oy and co-creation projects of Neste and Borealis Polymers Oy.

Bio-based options to plastics

In addition to recycling, Finland has a lot of knowledge in bio-based and bio-degradable materials that can be used to replace plastics. Utilizing forests and cellulose is deep in Finland’s traditions. There are numerous concrete solutions already in the market. For example, Woodly Oy and Woodio Oy produce wood-based plastics. Walki Group Oy and Wipak Oy, in turn, produce bio-based carbon neutral flexible packaging.

Business Finland published Finnish offering material

The offering material Global Plastic Waste Solution from Finland is used to present Finnish innovations and solutions to the international audience. It is the key tool for our global network. Now, as we publish the material, we also start cooperation with the companies who have solutions for handling, recycling, collecting, or replacing plastics.

We invite all these companies to a workshop on April the 8th, at 10:00. The goal of the workshop is to discuss and start to define the focus export markets and set the next steps according to companies' wishes. We will also have a presentation of an ecosystem development case around Borealis, who recently received the leading company project funding from Business Finland. The workshop gives excellent change to affect the program’s export activities, and to network with Borealis.

Read the article of Borealis’ funding: Towards green transition with the new leading companies.

Get in touch!

Would you like to know more about Finnish knowhow or ecosystems? I’m happy to answer any questions you may have and discuss your organizations’ plans.

We will also update the offering material in the future. In case you’d like to be featured in the version 2.0, please contact us.

Read more about the workshop and register