PYR’s managing director, Annukka Leppänen-Turkula, states that the recovery of used packaging is a business venture affected by the normal laws of supply and demand.
“The greatest need for change will arise due to legislation and will depend on the requirements that apply to the extent of producer responsibility for packers and importers of packed products,” she says. She mentions that producer responsibility for packaging is especially concentrated on the food industry and retail trade, which have assumed an active role in cooperation with the producer organisations. “Various possibilities are being studied to fulfil legal requirements at reasonable cost,” she adds.
The Waste Act will affect every sector
Leppänen-Turkula emphasises that all packers, whether they are manufacturers or packers in the food, electronics, chemical, forest or any other industry, will have to take care that only so much packaging is used as is required in addition to attending to the recovery and waste management obligations related to producer responsibility.
“Care must be taken that no hazardous substances are used in production and that all the other requirements stipulated in the Waste Act are observed, such as the waste hierarchy. This will all lead to extra costs in addition to those incurred in production,” she explains.
Next year will not bring about any changes in the fee for plastic packaging. Peter Rasmussen, the development director of the producer organisation for plastic packaging, Suomen Uusiomuovi Oy, feels that now is a bad time to add further costs that will have to be met by consumers. He adds, “Operations in 2013 will still comply with the old Waste Act in the packaging sector. Apart from that, the situation in the sector is rather steady. The future for plastic packaging looks favourable. There are a lot of new recovery firms for plastic packaging in Finland, especially in energy recovery. We are also feverishly studying how to promote material recycling in Finland, without forgetting material efficiency, of course.”
The Ecopoint pilot is continuing
The Ecopoint pilot for plastic packaging is continuing for the moment in Tampere and Kuopio. The aim is to further develop procedures related to the collection logistics required by the statutory network of reception points. Rasmussen believes that the use of plastics continues to hold its place as a versatile and efficient protector of products. “Not even economic cycles have much of an effect on this. The implementation stage of the Waste Act is still somewhat open, which naturally causes some difficulty concerning long-term assessment and planning,” he states. He mentions that the firm Ekokem and the Turku municipality’s waste management system have announced an eco-treatment project, in which a waste treatment plant is planned for Turku to handle the recovery of the district’s household waste. “Plastic packaging would also be sorted at the plant, which would enable the recycling of plastic packaging collected from the future Ecopoint network,” he explains.
Metal packaging steady
No great changes are expected at Mepak, the producer organisation for metal packaging, according to its managing director, Tapani Sievänen.
“During the coming year of operations preparations will be made for consulting and planning as well as for an increase in solidity requirements on account of the new Waste Act. Some metal packaging will go to incineration plants due to the increasing energy recovery of mixed waste. It will then have to be separated from the ash and cinders for recycling. Municipal waste plants are investing heavily in the energy recovery of mixed waste,” Sievänen explains. He further mentions that a network of scrap yards and terminals is already in place for metal packaging and that the waste Act will not alter their operations. “Mepak will have to arrange reception points for metal consumer packaging as stipulated by the new Waste Act. We have several years’ experience of these points from the district served by the Helsinki Region Environmental Services Authority (HSY),” he says.
Sievänen believes that there will not be any significant changes in the metal packaging sector during 2013. “The use of metal packaging is very steady and there have been very few changes over the past few years,” he explains.
Text Ilpo Salonen | Photo Atte Lakinnoro