Finland aims to become carbon-neutral by 2035. The Ministry of the Environment published in January 2021 the new Strategic Program to Promote a Circular Economy. The programme has been prepared in collaboration with ministries, research institutes, the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, Business Finland, and several companies and municipalities. (Ympäristöministeriö 2021a.)
To be able to fulfil the vision of carbon-neutrality, several steps are seen as necessary. Among others, sharing economy must become customary and sustainable products and services need to become mainstream. It is also mandatory, that the use of natural resources is sustainable, that the materials remain in circulation longer and safely. This breakthrough of the circular economy can be made possible by innovations, digital solutions, and smart regulations. Also, investors, businesses, and consumers play an important role. Through the potential of circular economy, Finland aims to be a strong player and provider of sustainable solutions on the international market. (Ympäristöministeriö 2021a.)
In February 2021, the Finnish Government opened public consultations on the Strategic Program to Promote a Circular Economy. While the aim is to limit the over-consumption of natural resources, to mitigate climate change and biodiversity loss by implementing circular economy principles, the intent is also to strengthen the economy and enable job growth. (Ympäristöministeriö 2021b.)
One of the outlined actions highlights circular economy markets. These markets will build up attractive conditions for recycled materials use and promote circular economy services for citizens. Also, incentives, such as taxation, will be developed, voluntary commitments to reduce natural sources encouraged and circular economy expertise included into the education system and working life. (Ympäristöministeriö 2021b.)
Circular and Sharing Economy in Practice
To be able to get people involved in using sustainable products and services and achieving the behavioural change in ownership, practical examples need to be promoted. This is in line with CECI – Citizen involvement in circular economy implementation, an Interreg Europe project.
Many examples of circular services already exist, however, awareness among people is lacking. In CECI, eight partners in six European regions identify and share existing good practices. These good examples include, for instance, tool and sport equipment libraries, shared bikes and cars, recycling and event centres, educational programs. The collected examples are easy to be adopted and replicated in other regions. CECI promotes the circular and sharing economy not only among citizens. The project cooperates with the regional decision-makers and local stakeholders to develop better policies supporting this transition.
Marjut Villanen works as an RDI Specialist in LAB University of Applied Sciences and is CECI Project Manager.
Katerina Medkova works as an RDI Specialist in LAB University of Applied Sciences and is CECI Communication Manager.
The Interreg Europe funded project CECI, (Citizen Involvement in Circular Economy Implementation), shares information, experiences, and good practices of citizen participation in a circular economy. The project is led by LAB University of Applied Sciences.
Ympäristöministeriö. 2021a. Strategic programme to promote a circular economy. [Cited 26 Feb 2021]. Available at: https://ym.fi/en/strategic-programme-to-promote-a-circular-economy
Ympäristöministeriö. 2021b. Kiertotalouden edistämistä koskeva valtioneuvoston periaatepäätös valmisteilla – pyydämme lausuntoja. [Cited 26 Feb 2021]. Available at: https://ym.fi/-/kiertotalouden-edistamista-koskeva-valtioneuvoston-periaatepaatos-valmisteilla-pyydamme-lausuntoja
Link 1. Interreg Europe. 2020a. Project Summary. CECI. [Cited 26 Feb 2021]. Available at: https://www.interregeurope.eu/ceci/
Link 2. Interreg Europe. 2020b. Project good practices. CECI. [Cited 26 Feb 2021]. Available at: https://www.interregeurope.eu/ceci/good-practices/
Link 3. Interreg Europe. 2020c. Newsletter. CECI. [Cited 26 Feb 2021]. Available at: https://www.interregeurope.eu/ceci/newsletter/
Link 4. LAB Focus. 2020. CECI project introduction. YouTube. [Cited 26 Feb 2021]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wiAgAG31X_8&list=PLtbOrywM-BA__4z-2GHRE3UCF_eaUnTgV&index=2&t=47s
Image 1. ready made. 2020. Circular economy thinking is a new normal. Pexels. [Cited 26 Feb 2021]. Available at: https://www.pexels.com/fi-fi/kuva/kirkas-luova-alypuhelin-viitta-3850512/
Image 2. Rouhiainen, O. 2020. Circular economy blooms through citizens involvement. CECI. [Cited 8 Mar 2021]. Available at: https://www.interregeurope.eu/ceci/news/news-article/11484/the-south-is-moving-the-lines-for-another-economy/