Editorial 15.10.2019

The first step towards the new Waste Act

Juha-Heikki Tanskanen
Juha-Heikki Tanskanen

The working group set up by the Ministry of the Environment to prepare the reform of the Waste Act submitted its report on 16 September 2019. The main task of the working group was to find the best means to achieve the recycling targets for municipal and packaging waste as determined in the new directives.

The working group met 11 times between February and September. It became clear that achieving the recycling targets for municipal waste laid down in the EU’s Waste Directive will be challenging in Finland.

The working group’s suggestions include increasing the sorting and collection of waste materials from residential and commercial properties and investing in advisory communications.

Although these measures are significant, it is not certain that they will be sufficient. In terms of packaging waste, we can be quite confident that the recycling targets will be achieved, although further measures will be required, particularly in the case of plastic and wooden packaging.

The group’s work progressed smoothly even if the report contains 50 pages of dissenting opinions and supplementary statements. It became clear that research on recycling and waste management should be more heavily invested in in Finland. We still have insufficient objective information on basic issues such as waste volumes and interdependencies between different factors. Opposite opinions are justified using the same arguments.

Changes in waste legislation seem to give packaging producers even more responsibilities and costs.

How much the costs will increase this time will depend on how the directives are interpreted, how they are introduced into Finnish law and how well we can implement them in our operations.

The Waste Act will be discussed and approved by the Finnish parliament by summer 2020, and then the organisation of operations that meet the new requirements will start.