The goal is a sustainable circular economy for plastics in Finland by 2035. The seven-year project was launched in December 2022 and will continue until the end of 2029.

Coordinated by Syke, PlastLIFE brings together a wide range of actors to develop means to reduce the negative environmental impacts, litter and unnecessary consumption caused by plastics, to make the recycling of plastic waste more efficient, to utilise recycled plastics and find materials and solutions to replace plastics and to develop the analysis and risk assessment of harmful substances.

The consortium of 17 partners includes research institutes, universities, a municipality, companies in the plastics sector and associations. The consortium cooperates with the Co-operation network for the Plastics Roadmap, which consists of national plastics actors. Additional networking will include companies, municipalities, Scouts, church youth work, the Baltic Sea Communication Network, schools and NGOs in order to overcome challenges related to plastics and to bring potential solutions to the awareness of all Finns, encouraging everyone to adopt them. Activities planned for the future include nationwide campaigns to reduce littering.

In addition, PlastLIFE wants to gather all other plastics projects in Finland around the same table in order to minimise overlapping work and to advance shared goals.

“We want the PlastLIFE project and its results to have widespread visibility and impact across Finland. Cooperation gives us strength to make tangible progress towards a sustainable circular economy for plastics,” says Project Leader, Senior Research Scientist Helena Dahlbo from the Finnish Environment Institute. The project involves partners from Lapland to Southern Finland and from east to west. This makes it possible to develop solutions that can be adapted to different environments.

Long-term work to promote the circular economy

Finland has been at the forefront of efforts in promoting the recycling of plastics and developing the circular economy in general. According to the latest official statistics, for example, more than 40% of plastic packaging was recycled and more than 90% of plastic deposit bottles were returned for recycling in Finland.

However, there is still a long road ahead. Achieving the goals requires long-term work, and all key actors and parties are involved in the effort. Finland prepared its own national Plastics Roadmap already in 2018. The Plastics Roadmap is an extensive programme that seeks to achieve a breakthrough in the circular economy of plastics in Finland by 2030.

“The Plastics Roadmap was recently revised and its goals and actions were specified. The aim is to promote change throughout the plastics value chain, which is essential for accelerating the circular economy of plastics,” says Merja Saarnilehto, Programme Manager at the Ministry of the Environment.

According to Helena Dahlbo, the work on the Plastics Roadmap has fostered a strong spirit of collaboration among the actors in Finland. “There is a sense of enthusiasm and eagerness to tackle challenges, and ideas for potential solutions emerge as people from different fields come together.”

The PlastLIFE project is funded from the EU’s LIFE programme, which seeks to advance the implementation of legislation, programmes, and strategies for environmental and climate change in member states.

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