The state-owned energy company Fortum, which operates Finland’s only plastic recycling plant in Riihimäki, recycles only a third of the plastic entering its plant, says Yle’s investigation program MOT.
However, the actual and Fortum-advertised recycling levels do not add up, MOT found.
In recent years, Fortum has said that 75 percent of the household plastic waste it treats is recycled into new products – a statement the company continued to make on its website in January. In recent years, however, this proportion has been significantly lower.
Fortum now reports that in 2019 it managed to recycle about 37 percent of the plastic waste arriving at the Riihimäki construction site, which, according to the company, has remained largely stable. At the Riihimäki plant, household plastic goes through several processing steps, ending with plastic pellets, which Fortum sells to manufacturers as a raw material.
Kalle SaarimaaFortum’s Vice President of Recycling and Waste denied that the company had provided misleading information on recycling efficiency, noting that the proportion of waste used as raw material varies from year to year.
More supply than demand
According to Saarimaa, households ‘enthusiasm for sorting plastic waste has exceeded buyers’ interest in plastic pellets. This has led to the burning of poor quality plastic, which has created power consumption for district heating systems.
Experts have criticized Finland for urging residents to recycle plastic.
Fortum said earlier that it did not have the capacity to handle all sorted plastics arriving in Riihimäki, which is why Finland supplies household plastic waste to Sweden and Germany. The company has argued that transporting plastic over long distances is more environmentally friendly than letting it break down in nature.
According to Saarimaa Fortum, he expects Fortum to be able to increase its plastic recycling efficiency to 60-65 percent in the coming years by introducing chemical recycling. Fortum also stated that its current recycling level reduces CO2 emissions. This position was echoed in a report commissioned by the Ministry of the Environment, which also found that a recycling rate of 37% reduced emissions.
The EU has set a target of recycling at least half of all plastic packaging on the market by 2025.
Source: The Nordic Page