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ZAAO gets to know examples of good Finnish practice in the implementation of the circular economy


During the experience visit to Finland, SIA "ZAAO" evaluates digitization in the waste sorting infrastructure, the overall responsibility of society and involvement in the implementation of circular economy principles.


SIA "ZAAO" (ZAAO) continues to work on the creation of the Pilot EKO square in Valmiera on Dzelzceļa street 5, significantly rebuilding and improving the existing ZAAO EKO square. The area surrounding the square is planned to be developed by renovating the old buildings, turning it into a modern circular economy and sorted waste collection complex. The square will be created together with the Vidzeme Regional Circular Economy Center as a place for repair and recycling, where visitors will also be able to buy things for reuse.

So that the planned reconstruction of the ZAAO EKO square on Dzelzceļa street 5 goes more successfully and, as a result, a comfortable and accessible EKO square is created for the public, at the same time, creating awareness and motivation of citizens for the implementation of circular economy principles in everyday life, at the beginning of March 2023, representatives of ZAAO went on an experience visit to Finland.

As emphasized by Gints Kukainis, chairman of the board of ZAAO: “Scandinavian countries have long-term and very valuable experience in circular economy issues. In 2022, we implemented a joint project with the Swedish Embassy in Riga, updating circular economy issues, looking for opportunities to transfer experience to Latvia. Also, in Finland, the principles of the circular economy have been brought to life now. There is experience in their implementation through the waste management industry, creating an opportunity for us to learn from their experience as well."

As part of the visit, the RE-point waste disposal site of the waste management company "Lakeuden Etappi" Oy was visited, which is in the vicinity of the city of Seinäjoki and stands out for the digital solutions implemented in it. The construction of the square was completed only in June 2021, it has been open to customers since June 28, 2021. The modern RE-point concept offers the opportunity to transfer waste in a new and convenient environment, with an emphasis on self-service processes. The main operating principle is to create a convenient service for citizens so that waste does not end up in the environment. Self-service is provided for households in the square 24/7 using the RE-appi mobile app. The area is equipped with informative signs that show what type of waste should be delivered where. To help residents sort their waste, a waste search function is available on the mobile app and website, where it is possible to check which waste category a particular item belongs to, thus promoting proper waste sorting.

In the Finnish city of Espoo, representatives of ZAAO visited the largest second-hand store of the recycling center  Kierrätyskeskus, where they were introduced to the center's operational organization processes, which provides for the transfer of things, if necessary, their repair, preparation for sale (by creating photos to be published on the sales website) and sale in the store created there. The center offers to sell and buy all kinds of household goods - from clothes, dishes to electrical equipment. As the center's employees emphasize: "We humans consume natural resources at an unsustainable rate. The core and essence of Kierrätyskeskus is to reduce this destructive habit by implementing and promoting reuse, recycling, DIY and comprehensive solutions for a sustainable lifestyle. We believe that each of us can be more than just a consumer. And we have many ways to help get there."

Kierrätyskeskus is a non-profit organization that works to create a better community by promoting a sustainable lifestyle and conserving natural resources. It has several stores throughout the Helsinki metropolitan area (Vantaa, Espoo and Helsinki) as well as a nationwide online store, selling a variety of second-hand household items and furniture donated by Finnish citizens and businesses. Items are complemented by used craft supplies and a collection created by the center's staff with recycled furniture, clothing, and accessories. A significant importance is given to education. Every year, around 60,000 children, teenagers, adults, representatives of communities and companies are trained on sustainability issues in this center under the guidance of environmental educators. The center also offers its services to any company that wants to achieve environmentally friendly changes in its operations. And as a social enterprise, the center offers work experience, career opportunities and new or improved skills to the long-term unemployed or anyone who needs some extra support.

Reminding, that at the beginning of 2022, ZAAO in cooperation with the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development (MEPRD) and 21 other cooperation partners in the waste management industry, have started to implement the European Union (EU) LIFE Integrated projects no LIFE20 IPE/LV/000014 “Waste To Resources Latvia - boosting regional sustainability and circularity” (LIFE Waste To Resources IP) activities. One of the project activities of the ZAAO is the creation of the Pilot EKO square in Valmiera, Dzelzceļa Street 5, which envisages the reconstruction of the EKO square until April 2024. The creation of the repair and recycling center, or Vidzeme regional circular economy center, is planned for the beginning of 2026.

The project will be implemented throughout the territory of Latvia until December 31, 2028, developing the waste management sector, promoting the implementation of circular economy principles and the concept of waste as a resource.___________________________

The integrated project “Waste To Resources Latvia - boosting regional sustainability and circularity” (LIFE20 IPE/LV/000014 LIFE Waste to Resources IP) has received funding from the LIFE Programme of the European Union and the State Regional Development Agency Republic of Latvia.

The information reflects only the position and opinion of the authors and does not necessarily reflect the position and opinion of the European Union or the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA). Neither the European Union nor the funding provider is responsible for the content expressed.

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