The Rinki eco take-back point network is intended for the collection of consumer packaging waste. Collection of packaging waste was earlier largely the responsibility of the municipalities, municipal waste management facilities and private companies. Now, it is the packaging producers or manufacturers and importers who are responsible for collecting packaging.
The Government Decree on Packaging and Packaging Waste (518/ 2014), on which the Rinki eco take-back network is based, seeks to create a nationwide service for households.
Earlier there were significant differences from one municipality to another in the standard of collection service and sorting instructions.
Goal of 1,850 take-back points
There were already more than 1,400 eco take-back points open in January 2016. These take back different materials to varying degrees. At the end of January, around 100 plastic collection points were open.
“The goal is to expand the network to a total of 1,850 take-back points. We are aiming for the full network of 1,850 eco take-back points by the end of July 2016. By then, the emptying of all collection containers and maintenance of all take-back points will be running smoothly and efficiently,” says development manager Pia Vilenius at Finnish Packaging Recycling RINKI Ltd.
Existing take-back points will be supplemented with new collection facilities so that all 1,850 points have collection containers for at least glass and board packaging and metal. In addition, around 500 of these take-back points will also collect plastic packaging.
“Most points will also have paper and possibly textile collection facilities, which we will organise in partnership with actors in the industry.”
Spring and summer will see the opening also of 450 completely new take-back points near good communication routes, mostly in conjunction with retail stores or commercial centres. We will announce the locations of the new eco take-back points once all the required permits and contracts have been dealt with and we know exactly where the sites will be.
New collection containers, harmonised instructions
The collection containers are largely mobile containers with a capacity of 4-6 cubic metres. In Southern Finland, larger 10-m3 containers will be used to collect plastic. Some of the take-back points will also use existing deep collection containers.
Compactors will also be in use at the largest sites. There will be 450 compactors for board and 110 for plastic.
The take-back points will have a Rinki eco-take-back point sign and during the spring stickers will be pasted in accordance with harmonized sorting instructions.
“It is important to sort as instructed to ensure the packaging material collected can be used for recycling and that it can be used as a source for good material for re-use,” Vilenius points out.
Eco take-back point stands for good service
Juhani Ilmola, Director of Advocacy at Corporation, says that an eco take-back point on the site of a retail outlet attracts people into the store.
“An eco take-back point stands for good service to customers, who find it convenient to return packaging waste when they go shopping in the same way as they are already used to returning empty bottles, batteries and accumulators, for example, to stores.
The criteria provided in the Government Decree on Packaging and Packaging Waste impact on which store has or can have an eco take-back point on its site. Efforts have also been made, for example, to treat different retail chains as equally as possible.
“This means that although much use will be made of existing recycling points, there will also be take-back points in some new locations. Old recycling points will be given a new look to harmonise them with the new eco take-back points. There will, for example, be compactors for board and plastic packaging in conjunction with the larger hypermarkets,” Ilmola says.
Important to comply with instructions
According to Ilmola, the start of collecting plastic packaging is the biggest change compared to earlier.
“It is very important to comply with the sorting instructions for plastic packaging. If broiler packaging with, for example, marinade on it ends up in the recycling container, it will soon start to smell. Putting the wrong material into a recycling container naturally also adversely affects further use of the material.”
Consumers need much information and guidance now when plastic recycling is starting up. It takes time to learn something new.
“If someone is uncertain whether or not a packaging is suitable for recycling, it is always better to put it in with the mixed household waste the first time, and then find out where it should go to ensure the packaging goes in the right place the next time.”
Fine-tuning on the way
Ilmola thinks that the system also needs to be fine-tuned on the way. If, for example, there is a significant increase in the amount of packaging at the eco point of any store, there is a need for larger collection containers in that location.
“It is in everyone’s interest that the system is as cost effective as possible. This also naturally benefits the consumer, since if the store incurs additional costs, these are ultimately passed on to the consumer via product prices,” Ilmola reflects.
Via reception terminals to final processing
Rinki has signed contracts to empty the collection containers in the Rinki eco take-back point network with five contractors. The contractors are: Lassila & Tikanoja plc, HFT Network Oy (new name Reno Norden Oy), Jätehuolto E. Parkkinen Oy, Paperinkeräys Oy and Kuljetusliike Rauhala Oy. Veikko Lehti Oy will be responsible for emptying containers in the Satakunta area until further notice. Maintenance and tidiness of the points has also been agreed.
The contractors will transport the materials to the relevant waste reception terminals to await transport to their final destination for processing. There is a total of at least thirty such terminals for each type of waste throughout Finland. The terminals are run by service providers chosen for the job by the producer organisations.
The producer organisations are responsible for recycling from the reception terminals onwards, except for glass packaging waste. For example, plastic packaging waste is taken from the terminals for final processing in Ekokem’s new plastic refinery in Riihimäki. Suomen Keräyslasiyhdistys, the glass packaging producer association has agreed with Finnish Packaging Recycling RINKI Ltd that Rinki is responsible for the recycling of glass packaging waste also from the terminals onwards.
“Glass packaging waste is shipped for to Berryman’s plants in England, where it is turned into new glass packaging,” says Jari Koivunen, regional manager at Rinki.
Where do firms take their packaging waste?
The Rinki eco take-back point network is intended for use by households, but firms, too, are responsible for packaging material waste remaining at their premises. This waste must be taken to producer organisation reception terminals for packaging waste. BtoB packaging taken to terminals must be sorted in accordance with the instructions for the packaging waste of firms issued by the producer organisations. BtoB sorting instructions for carton, metal, plastic and wood packaging waste, together with the addresses of the reception terminals for this waste, can be found on the websites of the respective producer organisations: Kuitukierratys.fi (board), Mepak.fi (metal), Uusiomuovi.fi (plastic) and Puupakkauskierratys.fi (wood). The BtoB reception terminals and sorting instructions for glass packaging waste have been published at Rinkiin.fi.
Reception of healthcare glass packaging waste
Sorting instructions for glass packaging waste state that healthcare glass packaging waste, such as viols, chemical bottles and ampoules, must not be mixed with, for example, jam jars and soft drinks bottles since this prevents the glass from being sent to the recycling partner.
Producers are setting up separate reception facilities for healthcare glass packaging waste at some of the existing 38 glass packaging waste reception terminals. These terminals will accept empty healthcare glass packaging. If packaging contains pharmaceutical residues, it constitutes hazardous waste and may not be taken to producer organisation reception facilities.
Contact information about the locations of terminals accepting healthcare glass packaging waste can be found at www.rinkiin.fi as soon as they start their operation.
For more information…
Rinki’s customer service answers consumer’s questions about recycling and sorting and is happy to receive feedback about Rinki’s eco points. The toll-free number is 0800 133 888 and calls will be answered from 7am to 9pm on weekdays and from 9am to 6pm on Saturdays, and the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information about recycling and sorting packaging and the locations of Rinki eco points is available at Rinkiin.fi. The online Kierratys.info service maintained by the Finnish Solid waste Association (JLY) provides maps showing the nearest recycling point.
Text Matti Välimäki, illustration Janne Harju