CIRCULAR ECONOMY SUCCESS: FINLAND’S RECYCLING PROGRAMME KEEPS BOTTLES AND CANS OFF THE STREETS
We see how Finland’s deposit system for bottles and cans achieves a recycling rate of more than 90 percent, and how city administrators and event organisers supplement the system with their own resourceful programmes.
Finland’s system for returning beverage containers started in the 1950s, and today almost every bottle and can is recycled. Convenience is the cornerstone of the system’s success.
Finnish residents returned more than two billion bottles and cans in 2020, 93 percent of the total amount purchased in the country. The factors that make this possible include automated bottle-return machines developed decades ago and the expansion of the system to include plastic bottles in the 2000s.
The EU directive on single-use plastics has focused additional attention on bottle recycling and sustainability.
Recycling bottles and cans conserves energy and raw materials, and reduces litter in cities and wilderness areas. Beverage containers become part of the circular economy as their materials are recycled into new containers or reused in other products.
Any bottles that someone happens to leave behind on the street or in a park are snapped up by someone who returns them for the deposit money.