Environmental Technologies Overview

An Expert's View about Waste in Finland

Last updated: 8 May 2011

Water services infrastructure is relatively new and well maintained. Major investments, at least in built-up
areas, have been made in recent years. Water supply plants deliver high quality drinking water to the
majority of Finns, while most of the waste water is purified. The largest cities and towns use surface
water as raw water feeds to their water systems. Two-thirds of public water service is based on natural
and artificial ground water supplies, and the share is increasing. The plants extract ground water at the
rate of about seven million cubic meters of ground water a day. People who live in the more sparsely
populated regions use mainly well water and ground water from natural springs. The quality of water in
piped water supply systems meets European Union norms, but in rural areas many wells fail to meet the
criteria. Waste water treatment in population centers and by industry are of a high European standard,
and about 80 percent of the population is connected to the centralized sewage systems.

In 2008, a total of 80 million tons of waste of various types was generated in Finland. Mining,
construction, and industry in general account for about 73 percent of all waste. There are about 200
waste handling facilities in Finland where waste is received, separated, and either reused or destroyed.
Collecting municipal waste is based on source separation and treatment of the sorted materials
separately. Municipal waste is composed of household and commercial waste paper, packaging, and
electronic waste. In 2009, 2.6 million tons of municipal waste was produced, 1, 053 lbs per person, and
7.4 percent less than in 2008. Out of this, 54 percent was recycled as material or energy. Household
recycled materials mainly include waste paper, packaging, and electronic waste. Finland is among the
leaders in Europe in paper collection and recycling of glass bottles. Separate newspaper and other waste
paper collection operate throughout the country, and paper waste that is collected is utilized by the paper
industry. The refund system for beverage bottles and aluminum cans assures a high recycling rate for
these items. Finnish waste legislation is also largely based on EU legislation and covers all waste except
certain special types of waste such as radioactive waste, which is covered by separate laws.

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Posted: 06 May 2011, last updated 8 May 2011

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