“Most significant improvement in recycling of waste since start of cardboard waste collection” – collection of plastic packaging will halve volume of K-stores’ energy and mixed waste

The separate collection of plastic packaging from businesses under the new Waste Act is the biggest single change in the way K-stores sort waste since the collection of cardboard waste was started in the 1990s. During January–August, the amount of plastic waste collected by K Group had already increased by 200 tonnes on the same period last year.
Photo: Kehittyvä kauppa magazine 10/2023

The transportation and shelving of goods generates large quantities of styrofoam and plastic boxes at stores every day, and in Finland these have so far been sorted into energy and mixed waste for incineration.

At the beginning of 2023, due to the new Waste Act, waste management companies started offering separate sorting of plastic packaging waste from stores. K-food stores, K-Rauta stores and Onninen Express stores, which serve business customers, have already started collecting plastic packaging separately.

“Large quantities of styrofoam boxes for fish, boxes for pick and mix sweets and buckets and trays for flowers are needed at stores every day. The opportunity to send these items separately for recycling and reuse promotes the circular economy. Separate collection of plastic packaging is the most significant improvement in waste recycling since the collection of cardboard waste was introduced. For example, the proportion of energy and mixed waste at K-Citymarkets can now be reduced to about half of what it was,” says Hanna Lehmuskoski, Environmental Manager at Kesko’s grocery trade division.

The number of stores sorting plastic packaging is growing all the time, and K Group has already recycled 200 tonnes more plastics in January–August than in the same period last year. The collection of plastic packaging will help to increase recycling rates at stores so they are higher than ever this year – up to 95% at one pilot store.

The promotion of the circular economy is one of the focus areas of K Group’s sustainability work. The targets set in K Group’s packaging and plastics policies aim to reduce the use of plastic and improve the recyclability of packaging. The divisions are also engaging in their own measures and the building and technical trade division was the first trading sector company to join the voluntary Green Deal of Construction Plastics in March 2022, for example.

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