Circular Economy and order of priority in waste treatment

Both national and EU legislation regulate waste treatment. EU’s target is to move towards Circular Economy and promote recycling. Circular Economy refers to a novel design of creating added value and reducing environmental stress by retaining materials in use as long as possible.

According to the Finnish Waste Act first priority shall be given to reducing the quantity and harmfulness of waste generated. If, however, waste is generated, the waste holder shall first and foremost prepare the waste for re-use, or, secondarily, recycle it. If recycling is not possible, the waste holder shall recover the waste in other ways.

How to turn waste into a product or by-product?

The prerequisites of defining by-products or applying the so-called End of Waste (EoW) criteria is a focal part of Waste legislation for several companies. Substantial commercial advantage can be pursued by enabling the further use of residual materials and hence creating value to the leftover materials. Waste ceasing to be waste or obtaining a status of a product, however, frequently has consequences, which need to be taken into account in order for the advantage to be realized. An example of such consequences are the obligations set by the REACH regulation.

Recycling – fertilizer products as an example

Waste recycling refers to operations by which waste is reprocessed into a product, material or substance, either for the original or some other purpose. Waste materials, e.g. ash, can be used in producing fertilizer products. Both the need for virgin materials and environmental stress can be reduced by retaining the material in use. Fertilizer product manufacturing and placing on the market requires usually e.g. a plan for self-monitoring, an approval of establishment and an environmental permit.

Recovery of waste

In some situations, recovery of waste is the best option. For instance, a Government Decree regulates the recovery of certain wastes in earth construction.

Linnunmaa has specialized in surveying the possibilities that Waste legislation enables different activities to apply. The strength of Linnunmaa lies in taking into account legal, scientific and technical prerequisites in perceiving the best solution.

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