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A year of producer responsibility

After producer responsibility for consumer packaging was transferred from municipalities to producer organisations on 1 January 2016, some sceptics asked if this action would cause consumers to be less keen to recycle. This question was prompted by the policy adopted by Rinki and the producer organisations.

”After producer responsibility for consumer packaging was transferred from municipalities to producer organisations on 1 January 2016, some sceptics asked if this action would cause consumers to be less keen to recycle. This question was prompted by the policy adopted by Rinki and the producer organisations to focus the Rinki eco take-back points in areas where people go, i.e. near supermarkets. The number of less-frequented points in smaller population centres was reduced at the same time.

Based on the experiences of the first year, we can say that people are just as keen to recycle as before, if not more so, thanks to the new Rinki eco take-back points located at supermarkets as well as the opportunity to now recycle plastic packaging. More packaging waste is also collected directly from homes and offices now that municipalities and their waste management companies expand their collection operations.

Our statistics show that the Rinki eco take-back point network and the sorting of packaging waste featured almost 400 times in the media in 2016. Early in the year, the stories described how collections were delayed and rubbish accumulated at some take-back points; however, we had expected some problems during the transition period. In the summer, people learnt how to use the take-back points, and the number of points determined in the packaging decree was reached. Later in the year, the stories focused on the importance of recycling and instructions for sorting.

4,200 organisations with producer responsibility have joined Rinki, and they are jointly responsible for the costs of collection and recycling. With the expansion of the scope of producer responsibility, the costs increased by 15 million euros. Rinki aims to maintain an efficient system for collecting and recycling packaging waste that will minimise the costs imposed on our clients by the Waste Act.

The costs are affected not only by efficiency but, in a significant way, also by the scope of the responsibility for waste management, which was transferred to the producers. This issue is very topical now that the EU is preparing to review the waste and packaging waste directives. One of the objectives is to unify the implementation of the producer responsibility in all member states. We can only hope that this will not, yet again, increase the responsibilities and costs for producers in Finland.”

 

Juha-Heikki Tanskanen