Recycling plastic household waste is already part of everyday life for a great majority of Finns. Recycling of plastic packages is quickly becoming more widespread in Finland, and there are more and more plastic collection points. In businesses the situation is different in many respects. In numerous processes, for example, in companies’ production and supply chains, there are still many kinds of waste flows in which plastic is not recycled but rather still ends up as waste.
“Combatting climate change calls for both minor and major acts. At K Group we are always thinking of how our own actions and the everyday lives of our customers could promote more sustainable choices for the environment. We aim to develop our operations so that emissions are not only compensated for but that, simply speaking, less emissions are generated,” says Timo Jäske, Sustainability Manager for Kesko’s grocery trade division at K Group.
Waste flows under control through cooperation
One example of an individual plastic waste flow are the plastic buckets used for the transportation of cut flowers sold at K-food stores. The bunches of flowers come to the stores in black plastic buckets, which amounts to almost 400,000 annually. Due to their poor quality, the buckets are not reusable as such. Therefore, until now they have ended up as energy waste after use.
As a result of collaborative innovation, K Group, Lassila & Tikanoja and Orthex developed a cooperation model with which the cut flower buckets can be efficiently collected, processed and recycled as flower pots. The buckets are collected by Lassila & Tikanoja by utilising the existing deliveries from the stores. The next step is to turn them into recycled plastic pellets at Lassila & Tikanoja’s plastic processing plant in Merikarvia, after which Orthex uses the material to make flower pots at its Lohja plant. The flower pots are sold in K-food and K-Rauta stores.
”Plastic is a valuable and good raw material, and it is of utmost importance to get it back in circulation. Recycled plastic is an excellent raw material for many products, and the carbon footprint of recycled plastic is up to 85% smaller than that of virgin plastic. In this project, we can handle the entire process from start to finish in Finland and can fully exploit the waste flow as a new, recyclable product,” says Alexander Rosenlew, CEO at Orthex.
”Companies have a major responsibility in building and developing circular economy practices, and the key to this work is cooperation. Corresponding waste flows certainly exist, this is just one example out of many. The new processing line at L&T’s Merikarvia plant makes it possible to turn waste into new raw materials,” says Sanna Peltola, Business Manager at L&T’s Environmental Services.