New Waste Act 2021 in Finland – stricter reporting requirements call for effective material flow management

Suomen jätelaki uudistuu 2021

The circular economy sector is growing exponentially, which also means that there is a constant need for the companies in the industry to develop. In addition to the competition, development is required as the tightening legislation as the new Finnish Waste Act enters into force in the summer of 2021. 

The EU has amended six waste directives and set ambitious targets for the recycling of municipal waste: in 2035, up to 65% of municipal waste should be recycled. In the future, the EU will demand more accurate waste reporting and recycling rate statistics from its member countries, on the basis of which Finland will also reform its national legislation.

In Finland, the new Waste Act of 2021 is still being prepared, and key policies, such as the division of responsibilities for separate collection, are subject to intense political debate. The government’s proposal for a new Waste Act will proceed to Parliament after the turn of the year. In order to achieve the ambitious recycling targets set by the EU, the government is proposing to tighten separate collection obligations and extend producer responsibility. What changes would this cause to the daily lives of circular economic operators?

Stricter accounting and reporting requirements, as well as a national register of transfer documents

The new Waste Act contains significant changes to the accounting and reporting requirements for circular economic operators. The following changes are planned, to name a few: 

  • Waste handlers will be required to keep records of the uses of the products and materials generated by waste recovery on a product and material group basis.
  • Waste incineration plants are required to record metals separated for recycling from the bottom ash and slag of waste.
  • Municipal and packaging waste pre-processors are obliged to record the waste removed during pre-treatment and its further treatment methods, as well as the proportions of municipal and packaging waste and waste from other countries treated at the facility.
  • Municipal and packaging waste operators are required to keep records of the waste and its origin, and to provide the above information to the waste handler.
  • Food business operators will be required to keep records and provide information on food waste generated in their operations.
  • Exporters of waste must keep records of the processing methods of the recycling, recovery and treatment of waste generated in the operation.

In addition, the Ministry of the Environment is currently working on the modernisation of the waste information system by means of developing information systems for reporting and monitoring waste information. The project is based on the new requirements for reporting waste and product information, as well as any shortcomings identified in current systems, both in terms of usability and in the coverage and reliability of waste information. One part of this reform is the national register of movement documents. 

Legislation on the transfer document obligation entered into force in 2012. According to it, it is the responsibility of the waste holder to prepare a movement document for certain waste, which must be included in the shipments within Finland. In the future, with the new Waste Act, this obligation will also apply to POP waste, i.e. waste containing persistent organic pollutants. In addition, the transfer document will require information on the treatment of the waste at the place of delivery in the future. The information must be submitted to the national register of movement documents maintained by SYKE within three months from the end of the transfer. 

Due to the reform of the movement documents and the waste information system, the new Waste Act obligates circular economy operators to switch to the use of electronic movement documents, which significantly reduces the burden of manual data transfer.

Ignorance is not bliss – the new Waste Act and more efficient material flow management with Flow by Pinja

New accounting and reporting requirements put circular economic operators in a crossfire - how to maintain profitability in the face of tightening requirements? The new Waste Act will force the reform and digitalisation of operations, as traditional operating models will no longer meet the new obligations. Data fragmentation and overlapping systems complicate and slow down reporting, resulting in reduced profits due to unnecessary work, human errors in data transfer, and lack of real-time data.

Flow by Pinja connects people, systems, profitability and data within the circular economy. Through Flow, you can manage the entire supply chain with agility. Real-time information is always at your fingertips. Tightening reporting requirements in the future will be easier to respond to when the information you need is just a click away, all in one system. 

With the help of Flow, you can effectively manage e.g. receipt and weighing of materials, load data management and reporting, electronic movement document management, real-time inventory management, and data sharing across the supply chain. Flow also submits movement documents automatically to the national register of movement documents of the Ministry of the Environment, the obligation of which will take effect with the new Waste Act. Flow is also easy to integrate with other systems such as customer management, billing or ERP systems.

Read more:

Blog: 4+1 most important things to consider in managing material flows in circular e
Flow by Pinja - a system for improving efficiency of material flows in circular economy business
Guide: 6 tips for streamlining inbound and outbound operations

Oskari Smeds

Oskari Smeds

I work at Pinja in the bioenergy and circular economy sector, helping industry operators to develop their business with digital solutions. I spend my free time with my close ones by hiking in nature, hunting and learning new handicraft skills.

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