The national waste management plan “From Recycling to Circular Economy” to 2023 sets out the objectives for waste management and prevention. Detailed targets and measures are set for four key areas: construction and demolition waste, biodegradable waste, municipal waste, and electrical waste and electronic equipment. Lahti belongs to the forerunner cities network of CIRCWASTE (Life IP 2017-2023), a project that implements national policy and pilots circularity models on an ambitious scope and timing.
Päijät-Häme Waste Company (hereafter: PHJ) has many campaigns, such as the 4-year BioBertta campaign, in the Päijät-Häme region, to reduce food waste. Food waste is also prevented:
- By organising biowaste reduction competitions at schools with municipality owned Päijät-Häme Catering Service Company
- Via the ResQ (private) app, where restaurants offer their left-over food. More than 45 restaurants in Lahti utilise this app.
The City of Lahti has an environmental counselling unit (8B).
PHJ’s “LOKKI” calendar, with waste information, is distributed yearly to all households and companies. PHJ’s website: Kierrätyskaista, where residents can sell, trade and give away usable goods, also includes a search feature to assist waste sorting.
Lahti has several recycling centres for usable goods. Flea markets are very popular and approximately 20 privately owned markets exist in Lahti (Fig. A1).
In 2016, the Kujala Waste Centre started accepting usable goods, in cooperation with PHJ and Lahden Työn Paikka Ltd, which offers work possibilities for long-term unemployed persons.
Repairing services excist in Lahti but, are relatively unknown or unreachable by its citizens. Lahti University of Applied Sciences created a joint service model for differential repair services and piloted it in autumn 2017. Nearly all pilot-customer feedback (+90%) was positive.
• Sorting waste at the source (Fig. A2).
• Properties with ≥10 apartments: seven bins (biowaste, energy waste, mixed waste, carton, paper, metal and glass).
• Smallest residential buildings: at least two bins (energy waste and mixed waste) + recommendation to compost their own biowaste.
• Waste transportation organized by private transportation businesses, tendered by real estate owners.
• Producer communities (Rinki) organize producers' responsibility for waste (e.g. paper, packaging) (8B).
• PHJ’s waste stations have hazardous waste containers and transportable compartments (e.g. campaigns for collecting furniture).
Päijät-Häme Waste Management Ltd. (PHJ) is in charge of municipal waste management for the City of Lahti. PHJ is a company owned by 10 municipalities and handles reception, processing and utilization of municipal waste (Fig. A3). The operation area covers approximately 200 000 residents. PHJ’s operation management system is certified under relevant standards: ISO 14001:2015, ISO 9001:2015 and OHSAS 18001:2007.
PHJ is in charge of handling municipal solid waste that is not part of the producers’ responsibilities. The households waste station “Pilleri” is located in Kujala. Since PHJ cooperates with producer communities, Pilleri also receives electronic waste, tyres, paper and packaging waste. Waste can be sorted into at least twenty different types.
Separately collected biowaste, garden waste and sewage sludge are composted in LABIO Ltd.’s biogas and composting facility. In 2016, the amount of municipal biowaste and garden waste was approximately 73 kg/inhabitant.
In 2017, the recovery rate was 97% for municipal waste, with 3% ending up in landfills (figures include all municipal waste from the area, except separately collected packaging/plastic waste or electronic devices received by stores). 42% of the total municipal waste was recovered as material.
PHJ is striving to achieve a 50% recycling rate by processing waste into raw materials for industry and by minimizing the amount of waste incinerated or taken to a landfill. The LATE sorting plant, is the first of its kind in Finland to tackle this issue (Fig. A4). The plant separates fibres, plastics and metals that can be recycled or further processed. The LATE sorting plant receives 250 tons of waste a day (66 000 tons per year).
Finnish Waste legislation carries out the Polluter Pays principle by stating that one who pollutes, should also pay for it and take care of the cleaning. In Lahti it means that each waste producer pays for emptying their waste bins, based on emptying frequency.
Waste management is funded by waste payments and other waste-based incomes. Recycycling is beneficial, as the household waste handling fee for unsorted mixed waste is higher than, e.g. the energy waste fee.
Despite all our efforts to curb waste production, the generated amount of municipal waste (kg/inhab.) is still quite high (Fig. B1). The most effective measure for control of waste management has been regulation of municipal waste management (incl. sorting regulations) along with economic guidance and consulting.
The utilization level has increased considerably over the last 10 years (Fig. B1) and is now over 90%. Previously, the focus has been on utilizing waste as an energy source. Our future challenge is to raise the share of material recycling.
• Consulting events and campaigns are organized at kindergartens, schools, libraries, fairs etc. (Fig. B2).
• The environmental counselling unit of the City of Lahti advises residents at events. With the help of the special eco-van, Kaisla, residents throughout the Lahti region are reached (Fig. B2). Many NGOs and smaller municipalities around Lahti often use this service .
• We have many campaigns to encourage residents to sort waste. For example, with the “Luukuta oikein” campaign (2015-2016), Lahti Housing Ltd. succeeded in reducing the number of “mixed waste” bins and clarified the liability of waste management distribution for properties. The campaign covered about 5% of all residents of Lahti .
• It has been possible to keep the biowaste processing price lower than that for mixed waste processing. In 2016, the biowaste processing price was 79 € per ton, while it was 111 €per ton for mixed waste.
• Over the past 25 years, 15 landfills have been closed in the Lahti region.
• The municipal waste utilisation rate has significantly increased over the last 10 years (Fig. B1).
• In 2012, Kymijärvi II, an innovative waste gasification plant, and combined heat and power plant was completed (investment 165 M€).
• In 2013, Lahti Aqua Ltd. started utilizing the biogas generated in sludge processing. The energy is utilized for heating.
• In 2015, a new collection system based on the legislation of producer responsibility for packaging waste was started. National Rinki Ltd. is owned by the companies who pack or import packed products. Rinki Ltd has 53 Eco take-back points in the Päijät-Häme Region.
• The amount of separately collected biowaste has increased over the past ten years (Fig. B3). Approximately half of the residents are within the reach of separate biowaste collection, in the operational area (i.e. about 110 000 residents). Effective consulting and economical guidance have helped to achieve the good results .
• The composting facility started operations in 2005 (Fig. B4). The biogas production and refining plant, LABIO Ltd. (owned by Lahti Aqua Ltd. and Päijät-Häme Waste Management Ltd.), was completed in 2014, making it Finland’s largest biowaste treatment plant. The investment totalled 17 M€.
The strategic decision of offering a separate waste collection system for households was a pioneering solution, in the mid-1990’s. Very few other cities in Finland offered a functional waste separation system at the time. Today, it is obligatory for residential buildings, of over than 10 apartments, to offer separate waste collection bins for 7 different waste segments: mixed, energy (plastic), cardboard, paper, glass, metal and biowaste.
• The sludge is composted together with biowaste.
• After digestion, the mass goes on for composting and turns into soil.
• Biogas is sold to Gasum Ltd. to be utilized as fuel. There is one biogas fuel station in Lahti. Lahti Aqua owns 35 biogas cars.
• The residual is composted and the end product is used to create soil or fertilizers.
• The facility can also process packed biowaste from grocery stores.
• The yearly capacity is 80 000 tons of biowaste and a biogas production of up to 50 GWh (9 million m3).
• Since 2007, different kinds of sludge (other than wastewater treatment sludge) have been solidified through the geotube process.
• Geomembrane – is a method where coagulation chemicals are used to separate the liquid and the solids. The liquid part is led to sewers.
• After PHJ, similar facilities have also been built elsewhere in Finland.
• The LATE plant sorts recyclables (plastics, metals, and fibres) out of mixed, energy and construction waste.
• The goal is to increase material recycling. The facility is sized for 66 000 tons of waste. Recyclable materials are sorted based on different characteristics (e.g. shape, mass, size and magnetism). Various screenings and separators (e.g. NIR technology) are used.
• Tarpaper Recycling Finland Ltd. has operated in Kujala since 2015. It collects and handles roofing felt waste from the whole of Finland. The waste is processed into a bitumen mix that can be used in asphalt production. The Bitumen mix has an ”end of waste” status (Fig. B5).
• Construction-based waste can be efficiently utilized in excavation works. Contaminated soil will be treated with screening and stabilizing. Stabilized soil can be used at the Kujala Waste Centre for landscape bank structures with an accepted environmental permit. Slightly contaminated soil and regular surplus land are used in closed landfill surface structures.
Waste management is funded from waste payments and other waste-based incomes. Each waste producer pays for emptying their waste bins, based on emptying frequency. It is costilier for consumers to not recycle, as the waste handling fee for households for unsorted mixed waste is higher than, e.g. the fee for energy waste.
The municipalities and Päijät-Häme Waste Board carry out the organizational responsibility of setting up municipal waste handling. The operational responsibility has been given to municipality-owned PHJ Ltd.
One general challenge for local waste management is to achieve a more comprehensive picture of its entire waste production and utilization. Currently, we have good data on municipal waste (sources, utilization and development needs). However, we only know a little about industrial waste, agricultural waste and waste from construction businesses. A more wide-ranging picture that encompasses all waste production and utilization in the area is needed to minimize the current level of material loss (Fig. C1).
The solution to this problem is available. A circular economy roadmap of the Päijät-Häme Region was recently finalized and it includes a wide variety of different actions, covering a vast amount of different waste segments and businesses. The work was conducted by the Lahti University of Applied Sciences and began with a thorough analysis of material flows in the region.
The roadmap includes five general themes, each with a strategic goal for 2030. One of the themes includes material circulation. To implement these goals, each theme has from three to seven regional actions, for a combined total of 26.
The best practices of bio-based circular economy are identified and promoted by the BIOREGIO project in six European regions.
The primary goal of waste management in Lahti is to increase the added value so that waste can be turned into saleable products/materials. The goal is to achieve a 50% recycling rate of municipal waste by 2020 (NOW: 38 %) (Fig. C2). A strong link to EU Plastic strategy goals (all plastic packaging material recyclable by 2030; consumption of single-used plastics reduced; microplastic evolution restricted) exists.
Valuable and recyclable plastic materials are already separated from the landfill and energy waste segments (Fig. A4). However, there are not enough markets for the recyclable plastics. Especially, dirty plastics derived from the mixed waste, do not appear to have a current value. To increase the recycling rate of plastic and packaging materials, differential packaging materials and plastics are need to be separated, as early on as possible. Therefore, Lahti will start to offer enhanced collection of plastic waste from all larger apartment buildings, by 2020. Currently “energy waste bins” (Fig. A3) are mandatory for all houses in the Lahti region, while “plastic waste collection (material recycling) bins” can only be found at Rinki collection sites.
To further process the differential waste plastic segments into products, several new areas for this kind of business development are needed. Therefore, a new Recycling Park is currently under planning. Differential co-operation and scientific research supports the city area in achieving its circularity targets.
Currently City of Lahti is designing a new approach for the preventing food waste. For example, shared refrigerators for household leftover food are currently being discussed. Food waste prevention is also carried out in schools and kindergartens together with the Päijät-Häme Catering Service Company. Restaurants and food markets could co-operate more to reduce the amount of leftover food. A good examples is the Lahti Further Education lunch restaurant run by the school’s student cooks, where leftover lunch food is sold to citizens.
One of our goals is to increase the amount of separately collected biowaste. Currently, we are studying how biowaste could also be collected from small properties in a cost-effective way. Based on surveys, mixed waste includes approximately 20% biowaste.
In October 2016, a joint development project by the City of Lahti and PHJ was initiated. In it, we are looking for sustainable solutions for utilization of leftover land. The main goal is to increase its reuse and find new uses, in addition to utilization in landfill structures.
The Kujala Waste Centre is also working on improving sustainable development through energy solutions. PHJ has an ongoing project, where the energy efficiency of the Kujala Waste Centre is to be improved. The goal is to design and acquire new energy efficient power production solutions that use renewable energy for both the Kujala Waste Centre area and nearby areas.
The City of Lahti and the Finnish Sustainable Communities (FISU)
The City of Lahti joined the Finnish Sustainable Communities (FISU) network in 2016. Lahti applied to the network, signed the agreement and committed to working towards becoming emission-free and waste-free, and to curbing overconsumption by 2050.