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Jyväskylä nominated forerunner of the circular economy

As a forerunner in the national context, the resource-wise Jyväskylä takes determined steps to promote the circular economy, reduce the consumption of natural resources and minimise the amount of waste. The huge potential offered by the circular economy will now be
harnessed more efficiently in the Jyväskylä region to build sustainable wellbeing. For Jyväskylä’s part, this means the recovery of precious metals from electronics scrap, increased use of biogas as a motor fuel and smarter public transport in the city.

Jyväskylä along with nine other Finnish municipalities – Ii, Kuopio, Lahti, Lappeenranta, Porvoo, Riihimäki, Rovaniemi, Turku and Vantaa – have been nominated forerunners of the circular economy. All these municipalities are committed to promote the circular economy in an ambitious and tangible way. As the first Finnish municipal network, they intend to achieve the objectives of the national waste management plan by recycling at least 55 per cent of municipal waste, re-using at least 70 per cent of all building and demolition wastes and reducing the amount of wastes to the 2000 level by the year 2020.

The Finnish Environment Institute SYKE and Motiva selected the pioneering municipalities from among twenty applicants. The selection criteria included the commitments made by the municipalities in the application phase and the measures taken to date to promote the circular economy.

New uses for precious metals recovered from electronics scrap

The municipalities are free to promote the circular economy using methods they see fit. They will initiate new business, engage local residents and establish new forms of cooperation with various actors. Many institutes of education and companies in the Jyväskylä region possess unique expertise that can generate innovative solutions to respond to the challenges posed by climate change. As it is, there already are several players, such as BioGTS, a manufacturer of biogas plants that is currently establishing itself in the Asian market, and Spinnova, which proposes to replace one fifth of the cotton produced in the world by wood fibres. Chemists from the University of Jyväskylä and Jyväskylä Energia have had a joint research and development programme to develop a technology that makes it possible to separate precious and rare earth metals from electronics scrap. The innovation is believed to offer major business potential in the global market worth billions of euros.

Regional cooperation is the key

Jyväskylä City is determined to pitch in to promote the circular economy.

“The circular economy will definitely promote the local economy and employment. At the same time, it will improve regional self-sufficiency,” says Pirkko Melville, acting Development Director of Jyväskylä City.

As a city with a long-term plan to use resources wisely, Jyväskylä has included the promotion of the circular economy as one of the priorities of its strategy for 2017–2021. In real terms, this will mean that the city will make more systematic efforts to prevent the generation of waste, reduce its amount and promote the recycling and re-use of materials.

The circular economy projects most visible to the residents are the production of biogas and the development of the gas distribution network as well as the project to facilitate the use of public transport on a sustainable basis by means of the recently branded smart mobility concept.

“We wish to inspire all residents and other actors to join us in the efforts to promote the circular economy. The key is cooperation, everyone can make a contribution. I firmly believe that in future we will see a range of new solutions based on the circular and sharing economy in Jyväskylä, ranging from car sharing and city bikes to waste food restaurants and ecological industrial parks,” Melville says.

Internationally ambitious objectives

According to the Finnish Environment Institute SYKE, the municipalities’ plan is ambitious even on a global scale. The other municipalities participating in the programme are, among other things, planning projects such as making use of the side flows of the forest and mining industries as a replacement for concrete, creating a bioindustry park and circular economy cluster, converting a landfill into a renewable energy area and constructing low-carbon infrastructure. Just like Jyväskylä, many other municipalities want to engage the residents in the efforts to develop the circular economy.

Circular Economy Service Centre to support the network

Selecting the network of forerunners is part of the “Circwaste − Towards a Circular Econo-my” project coordinated by the Finnish Environment Centre. The seven-year project is part of the EU Life programme and has a budget of almost EUR 19. The goal of the project is to promote the circular economy with practical measures in construction, agriculture, industry, the food chain, and households. Jyväskylä will carry out two Circwaste sub-projects. Additionally, the Regional Council of Central Finland and Central Finland Hospital District have their own sub-projects.

The municipal network will be supported by the expert services of the Circular Economy Service Centre, which is run by SYKE and Motiva. The Service Centre will also monitor the municipalities’ progress with the help of various indicators. The municipalities hope to be able to network with the actors in the field and generate publicity for their activities promot-ing the circular economy.

Additional information:
acting Development Director Pirkko Melville, City Jyväskylä, tel +358 14 266 1593, pirkko.melville@jkl.fi

28.11.2017Kirsi Kesänen

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