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Recycling and recovery

In 2019, about 1.43 million tonnes of MSW components were collected separately to be utilized mainly as material. Paper, cardboard and biowaste have long been the biggest separately collected material items. Still, after separate collection, mixed waste comprised about 1.54 million tonnes and miscellaneous waste 0.16 million tonnes of the total amount.

The Finnish Solid Waste Association KIVO (Suomen Kiertovoima ry) represents public waste management and 31 municipal waste management organizations (MWMOs). KIVO has collected a database of the mixed waste composition studies carried by MWMOs, performed by manually separating the mixed waste fractions (mainly from the households). According to the KIVO’s statistics, mixed waste generally consists mostly of recyclable fractions like biowaste, plastic, paper and cardboard waste. About 1/3 of mixed waste is biowaste and many other waste fractions are basically recyclables, which people have not separated correctly. Miscellaneous waste comprises in average only 18% of the total amount of waste and consists of miscellaneous packaging (e.g. multi-material packaging), diapers and hygiene products (approx. 8% of everything) and other materials, which cannot be easily utilized.

Paper, paperboard and biowaste have long been the largest separately collected material fractions. In 2020, the share of material recovery of MSW was 42%. Material recovery includes also the recycling of biowaste by composting and anaerobic digestion, which comprises 13.5 percentage units. Anaerobic digestion is considered as material recovery as it generates biogas, which can be utilized as fuel. Also, the recycling rates are high for some separately collected fractions: paperboard packages 116%, glass packages 98% and metal packages 85%. Since 2012 energy recovery (incineration) of waste has been the most significant treatment mode of MSW – in 2020 its share rose slightly, to 58 %. Energy recovery of MSW is mainly based on the combined production of electricity and heat (CHP)that is often utilized in district heating networks.