June 7, 2019

Five for Friday: World Circular Economy Forum

Finland has set a goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2035. An innovative approach means a sustainable, circular future with Finland.
Finland has set a goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2035. An innovative approach means a sustainable, circular future with Finland.
Julia Bushueva

The third annual World Circular Economy Forum took place in Helsinki this week. Check out these five companies that are closing the loop on sustainable solutions.

With the current usage of plastics, by 2050 the world’s oceans will contain more plastic than fish. Hence, circularity and sustainable solutions cannot go overlooked if we humans don’t want to end up swimming in deep water in the near future.

In 2017, the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra hosted the first World Circular Economy Forum. This year, when the forum returned to Helsinki, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland and our very own Finnfacts and invited journalists from Southeast Asia to attend and learn how Finnish companies and organisations are keeping the world spinning in the right direction.

According to Sitra’s Ernesto Hartikainen, circular economy and sustainable solutions should not be seen only as means to save the planet but also as business cases that can help Finns gain competitive edge in untapped markets.

Here are some Finnish solutions that tackle the challenges.

Sulapac

With the mission of saving the world from plastic waste, the people at Sulapac have created a patented, biodegradable and microplastic-free material that has all the benefits of conventional plastic without taking a toll on the environment.

“There are 500 million plastic straws used in America every single day and the number for Europe combined with Russia is 800 million,” said CTO Panu Hendolin.

The latest innovation from Sulapac is a marine-degradable, mass-producible straw that helps keep fish swimming. The straw has been created in collaboration with fellow Finns Stora Enso and is set to be released during the second quarter of 2019.

Infinited Fiber

This company is definitely not going out of fashion with its technology that threads the needle for sustainable cotton, allowing the textile to be used again and again while preserving 100 per cent of its quality.

According to CEO Petri Alava, the time for action is now: “Fashion is the second-most polluting industry globally and getting worse. We have a solution brands love and a world-class team that get it done.”

Infinited Fiber is a young startup with a mature core and over 100 years of combined experience in the global fibre industry. The forever youthful company has already worked alongside world-renowned big guns in fashion such as Adidas, H&M, Tommy Hilfiger and Wrangler.

Smart & Clean

Cleaning up cities with smart solutions. The team at Smart & Clean Foundation has taken on the responsibility to orchestrate and facilitate coalitions that together can create and develop permanent sustainable solutions for society.

The new governmental policy programme and Finland’s ambitious pledge to become carbon neutral by 2035 are not making the foundation’s lips tremble. In fact, it is welcoming them with open arms.

“Our goal is to become the window for global climate solutions by 2021,” asserted CEO Tiina Kähö.

One of the foundation’s latest initiatives involves creating a closed circle for plastics in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area and Lahti. All Smart & Clean partners have already committed to the project.

Neste

The world’s third-most sustainable company and the highest-ranked energy company on the Global 100 list is the leading producer of 100 per cent renewable diesel. The renewable fuels produced by Neste in 2018 reduced carbon emissions by 7.9 million tonnes, which equals removing three million cars from the roads for a full year.

Petri Lehmus, vice president of R&D, outlined the company’s ambition to help its customers reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20 million tonnes every year by 2030: “We believe that climate change defines the future of the energy sector and that circular economy is the vehicle for sustainable growth, which is why we are committed to creating a healthier planet for our children by delivering cleaner fuels to the roads.”

Loop

Food waste or unutilised resources? The people working at Restaurant Loop are producing delicious meals from locally sourced excess ingredients, which they receive from local merchants and producers.

With its operations, the Helsinki-based non-profit wants to help reduce carbon emissions caused by the food industry.

“If food waste was a country, it would be the third-largest nation in the world. We at Loop feel like we must make sure, not only through education, but also through concrete actions, that the food waste nation diminishes,” Mirka Korkia-aho, operational manager, outlined.

Text: Jonathan Öller

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