A large-scale collaboration project (PlastLIFE) to enhance circular economy of plastics is starting in Finland. Ministry of the Environment and Finnish Environment Institute SYKE coordinate the project. The total budget of the project is approximately 20 million euros, and its financing comes from the EU Strategic LIFE Programme (LIFE SIP). Brahea Centre at the University of Turku is a partner in PlastLIFE Work Package focusing on plastics used in construction and agriculture.
The central aim of the project is sustainable circular economy of plastics in Finland by the year 2035. The project begins in January 2023 and continues until the end of the year 2029.
The project brings together a large group of actors to jointly develop measures to reduce negative environmental impacts of plastics, littering and un-necessary consumption of plastics; to increase recycling of plastics and the use of recycled material (in end-products), find complementary materials or solutions for plastics, as well as to develop methods for analysis and risk-assessment of plastics. The project combines scientific research and its results to practical measures.
Brahea Centre at the University of Turku is a partner in PlastLIFE Work Package focusing on plastics used in construction and agriculture. The aim is to study recyclability of these plastic materials, the suitability of the used plastic materials to different end-use options and products, possibilities to replace plastics with other materials, the bottlenecks of recycling, and to valorise the plastic value chain and opportunities to co-create sustainable business models in collaboration with private companies and other plastic cluster actors.
”Sustainable development is a cross cutting theme at the University of Turku and it comprises everything we do – from research and teaching to everyday life on campus. From the perspective of my own unit, Brahea Centre, it is great to be involved in promoting circular economy of plastics in Finland in co-operation with other universities, research centres, private companies and NGOs. We have worked for a long time to enhance circular economy among agro-plastic recycling as an example. The PlastLIFE SIP project supports this work on sustainability”, says Leena Erälinna, Director of Brahea Centre and member of the University of Turku Steering Group for Sustainable Development.
Collaboration and multidisciplinary approach empower circular economy
In addition to the coordinators, Finnish Environment Institute SYKE and Finnish Ministry of the Environment and university of Turku, PlastLIFE project partners include Aalto University, the City of Helsinki, University of Jyväskylä, Karelia University of Applied Sciences, Kuljetusliike Vaahterinen Oy, LAB University of Applied Sciences, University of Lapland, LUT University, Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE), Muovipoli Oy, Oy Orthex Finland Ab, Pidä Saaristo Siistinä ry/Keep the Archipelago Tidy Association, Plastone Oy, and Suomen Biokierto ja Biokaasu ry.
”The project opens a brilliant opportunity for new collaboration with very competent partners. Driving sustainability and circular economy forward is a big task, and solving the open problems in it requires collaboration of multiple academic disciplines. The plastics that are used in construction and agriculture are difficult to replace by other materials, and therefore recycling and increasing the utilization of the recycled materials in these sectors are essential. The current acceleration of costs of energy and material inputs brings additional challenges, but increasing costs compel everyone across sectors to save energy and materials. That way the present energy crisis can support circular economy”, underlines Johanna Yliskylä-Peuralahti, project manager and researcher at the University of Turku Brahea Centre.
The project consortium co-operates with Plastic Roadmap actor network, companies, municipalities, different NGOs, Baltic Sea communicators, and schools to overcome plastic problems and to disseminate solutions to them to everyone in Finland. There will be e.g. nation-wide campaigns to diminish plastic littering.
PlastLIFE wants to gather all other on-going plastic projects around the same table in order to avoid overlapping work and to promote joint goals:
”We want PlastLIFE results to be effective and visible widely in all parts of Finland. Collaboration gives us strenght to promote sustainable use and circular economy of plastics in a tangible way. Partners from Lapland to Southern Finland, and across the country from East to West are on-board. This way we can develop solutions that are suitable for different regions ”, says Helena Dahlbo, the director of PlastLIFE project and Senior research scientist at the Finnish Environment Institute SYKE.