K Group to introduce Finland’s first plastic bags made of plastic recycled by households

Pirkka ESSI circular economy bags was added to the selections of K-food stores in January 2017. Packaging plastic recycled by households is utilised in their manufacture for the first time in Finland. K Group aims to help its customers make responsible choices and transition to a circular economy easier with circular bags and plastic collection points.

K Group wants to contribute to promoting the transition to a circular economy model. No waste is produced in a circular economy. Instead, materials are utilised as efficiently as possible as the raw materials of new products.

The new Pirkka ESSI circular bags are the first circular economy products produced commercially on a large scale in Finland. They utilise plastic packaging materials generated by households.

– Using circular bags, K-food store customers can also take part in promoting the transition to a circular economy during their everyday shopping. While shopping, customers can also drop off the plastic packaging waste collected at their homes to the Rinki eco take-back point located in conjunction with the K-food store. Plastic collection points are located already in conjunction with 160 K-food stores, according to Timo Jäske, Sustainability Manager for Kesko's grocery trade.

Price of a regular plastic bag

The new Pirkka ESSI circular bags will be in the product selections of nearly all K-food stores. The bag is available in both white and grey. The price of the circular bag is the same as a regular plastic bag and it does not differ visually from a regular plastic bag.

Plastic packaging materials have been collected from households for approximately a year at Rinki eco take-back points, among others. The plastic from Rinki eco take-back points is processed, using new technology, into CIRCO recycled plastic at the Ekokem Plastic Refinery in Riihimäki. Circular bags are made by Amerplast, located in Tampere.

– The necessary infrastructure is now ready for recycling and reusing plastic and producing circular economy bags. Finns can now leave traditional plastic bags in the past, says Børge Kvamme, CEO of Amerplast.

K Group has its own circular economy programme

– We will reinforce our activities to promote circular economy together with our partners this year. The aim is to innovate and pilot new commercial circular economy projects and make them a part of everyday life of our customers, similar to circular economy bags, says Jäske.

K Group participated in five central circular economy projects in 2016. A national waste agreement was signed with L&T, improving the recycling of the waste accumulated at K-stores and the reuse of raw materials. The cooking greases of Christmas hams were collected in the Kinkkutemppu project at the collection points at K-food stores and renewable diesel fuel was manufactured from the grease. The shopping centre Karisma, owned by K Group, launched a clothes collection pilot project together with L&T. The collected textiles are directed to reuse by companies operating in the textile industry. The Liiteri pilot project, intended for urban residents, tested a 24h K-Rauta tool renting service in the sharing economy spirit. K Group has worked together with Gasum since the 2015 autumn in order to refine biowaste into biogas, which is used as energy to produce new Pirkka products.

In addition to promoting recycling plastic, K Group has published a plastic policy, which aims to reduce plastic waste entering water bodies and elsewhere in nature. K Group has also committed to the Green Deal agreement and its actions to reduce the consumption of plastic bags.

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