The Flatten-it-out campaign highlights the importance of flattening cardboard packaging

The Flatten-it-out campaign aims to ensure that collection containers are filled more efficiently, offers guidance to consumers and encourages people to come up with ways to make collection more efficient.

By Eeva Lauronen

Images: Suomen Kuitukierrätys Oy

In 2020, the average weight of a collection container at Rinki eco take-back points was 77 kg when they were emptied. Significant environmental benefits could be achieved if all packaging was flattened, as this would reduce traffic volumes. If we would flatten more packaging to increase the weight in the collection containers by 20 per cent, it would mean that an additional 560 milk cartons or 100 average-sized cardboard boxes, for example, could be recycled per emptying.

Flattening packaging also makes a huge difference to the tidiness of Rinki eco take-back points and waste collection points at residential buildings. Flattened packaging is easier to fit into collection containers, and the area around the collection point stays clean.

If cartons are not flattened, a lot of unused space is left in the collection containers. Large containers at Rinki eco take-back points are usually full near the opening at the front, while the back of the container can be almost empty.

Collection operations could be made more efficient by flattening cardboard packaging and possibly also redesigning the collection containers, says Eija Jokela, Development Manager of Suomen Kuitukierrätys Oy.

Over the past year, containers have been filled with an increasing number of large food delivery boxes, which are often left unflattened. This has meant more unused space in the containers.

The Flatten-it-out campaign was launched on social media on 1 June and will continue until the end of July. Consumers are asked to share their ideas on how to ensure packaging is flattened and cartons are collected efficiently. The campaign also offers funny flattening tips.

We have a tongue-in-cheek approach to this issue in our social media campaign. Free-style flattening is fine as long as people remember to flatten their packaging, says Jokela.

The best ideas will be tested across ten residential buildings in the Oulu region this autumn. The process will be tracked by weighing the collection containers and monitoring how often they are emptied. Residents will also be interviewed, and recommendations for further action will be presented later. The information obtained from the campaign may be used in the future for designing collection containers and labels to remind people to flatten their packaging.