The take-back terminals for consumer and BtoB packaging waste have been opened according to the packaging decree. What has changed and why?
Reception terminals set up in accordance with the packaging decree have been open since the beginning of May. They handle and temporarily store packaging waste.
Producer organisations for fibre, metal, plastic and glass packaging have authorised Finnish Packaging Recycling RINKI Ltd, previously named PYR Oy, to arrange the collection of consumer packaging. The glass packaging producer organisation Suomen Keräyslasiyhdistys ry has authorised RINKI to not only collect but also to recycle glass packaging waste.
In practice, the terminals are run by service providers, including both private and municipal waste management companies, nominated by the producer organisations.
No major changes in the collection of fibre packaging
Suomen Kuitukierrätys Oy’s managing director Juha-Pekka Salmi says that the locations of the 60 reception terminals for fibre consumer packaging are based on the existing network.
“The legal requirement was a minimum of 30 terminals, but it is better to have several terminals where light fibre packaging can be reduced in size in order to avoid transporting packaging with a lot of air.”
According to Salmi, building the network of terminals did not change the existing flows of recyclable cardboard.
“The routes were formed by practical experience, and they remain the same. Now the same operations are covered by a legal obligation.”
Salmi says that there is an open invitation to tender for the terminals at the moment, and its aim is to streamline the system.
“Our idea is to achieve better and more comprehensive agreements with our partners. As our responsibilities and costs increase in the recycling operations, we want to have a firm control of the entire chain,” says Salmi.
Collection of plastic packaging
The take-back terminals that receive plastic BtoB packaging free of charge started operations in May, while the collection of consumer plastic packaging will start at the beginning of next year.
Suomen Uusiomuovi Oy’s managing director Vesa Soini explains that the network of 66 terminals for companies was arranged using an open model.
“We determined the operational model and minimum requirements for the company terminals. We informed all parties operating in the sector that any service providers who meet the requirements could be part of the network. One of the essential requirements for the partner was to have sufficient knowledge of recycling and recycling channels.
The general quality guidelines for suppliers of material for the terminals state that the packaging must be sorted by the type of plastic, and it must be clean and dry.
Soini points out that companies are not obliged to deliver their plastic packaging to a terminal:
“At least the larger companies have comprehensive contracts with waste management companies, who may have their own recycling channels in place. If plastic waste is sorted at source and there is a considerable amount of it, it actually has financial value.”
A more important change in producer responsibility for plastic packaging will take place at the beginning of next year as the collection of plastic consumer packaging begins.
RINKI Oy will organise the collection of plastic consumer packaging in the same manner as other types of packaging. Collection containers for plastic packaging from consumers will be emptied at terminals collaborating with Uusiomuovi, and the material will be transported to Ekokem’s Riihimäki refinery for recycling.
“Our aim is to collect material that can actually be recycled. We will be ready at the end of the year. It remains to be seen to what extent consumers are willing to use the new recycling option.”
Joint collection of small metals to continue
The managing director of the metal packaging producer organisation Mepak-Kierrätys Oy, Tapani Sievänen, says that the organisation and municipal waste management companies have agreed that the collection of metal packaging and small metals from households will be carried out the same way until the end of this year. The invitations for tender have been issued for the sales of metal waste, collection transportation and regional terminals to be set in accordance with the new operational model.
The number and location of the regional terminals will be determined by the volumes of metal waste and the requirements for streamlining the collection logistics.
“The only features to be changed in the regional terminals are their operational and financial responsibilities.”
“What is more important is the fact that nationwide sorting guidelines came into force on 1 May 2015. RINKI Oy will ensure that new and some of the existing collection containers are standardised, and they will be placed in locations that are easy for consumers to access.”
There are 38 reception terminals for glass packaging in Finland. They are placed in various locations to ensure that the network covers the entire country. RINKI Oy selected the operators after a tendering process.
Lassila & Tikanoja is the operator in 13 locations. According to the company’s business manager Sanna Peltola, the change brought about by the new terminals is a good one as the practices are now more uniform.
“There have been problems mainly because we have received glass from some areas that has not met the quality requirements. This has been due to the fact that the sorting instructions were less strict than the current, revised guidelines.”
She is certain that this issue will be rectified as soon as consumers and other operators in the chain become familiar with the new guidelines.
Itä-Uudenmaan Jätehuolto Oy runs a terminal for glass packaging waste in Porvoo, and it is in the process of merging with Rosk’n’Roll Oy that operates a glass terminal in Lohja.
Itä-Uudenmaan Jätehuolto Oy’s managing director Vesa Heikkonen says that the company’s day-to-day operations have not really changed at all.
“We receive glass waste in the same way as before: we verify its quality, we weigh it and store it. But now we send our reports not just to the authorities but to RINKI Oy as well. Another new feature is that all glass waste ends up in England, where it is used as material for new glass packaging,” says Heikkonen.
Consumer packaging refers to packaging such as a herring jar that is intended to be sold to consumers. BtoB packaging is packaging intended to be used by companies; examples include sales packaging made of cardboard and shrink film that holds herring jars during transport.
Text by Matti Välimäki