Full producer responsibility for packaging entered into force on 1 January 2016. The relevant legislation means the provision of 1,850 collection points for carton, glass and metal packaging, with 500 of these being capable also of receiving plastic packaging. Unfortunately, we are running behind schedule. At the time of writing, there were over 1,400 points in the Rinki eco take-back point network, with over 500 points also capable of receiving plastic packaging. Many journalists have contacted us and the delay has largely been well understood. The sorting and collection of plastic packaging has attracted most attention. The keenest consumers have even said that they had been saving their plastic packaging in anticipation of being able to recycle it.
Why was not everything up and running at the turn of the year? This was mainly due to the tight schedule. Following the amendment of the Waste Act, the Government Decree on Packaging and Packaging Waste was delayed. This left little time to prepare. Building new collection points is a slow process. Their sites need to be agreed with each landowner separately, often on site, and permits for the points are required from the local authorities. Fortunately cooperation with the municipalities mostly went well.
This spring and summer will see 400 new points being brought into use. This means the Rinki eco take-back point network will comply with the requirements of the Packaging Decree. The temporary shortfall in the number of collection points will not impact the achievement of recycling targets. Even if municipal and producer eco take-back points were to be completely discontinued, the packaging recycling rate would only fall by around five percentage points. Nevertheless, eco take-back points play a significant role in consumers’ possibilities and motivation to sort. Only a third of residents in Finland have a property-specific collection container for sorting fibre, glass and metal packaging.
We will tell consumers about their new sorting possibilities by, for example, displaying sorting instructions at collection points, via our customer service line, the Rinkiin.fi website, Facebook and Twitter. However, information on its own is not enough. It’s easy for busy people to forget about sorting and especially sorting in accordance with instructions. This is why we need to motivate consumers to sort by telling them why it is important. Collecting and recycling packaging materials is economics, technology and psychology.
Juha-Heikki Tanskanen, CEO