Oulun Energia’s circular economy for a cleaner tomorow
Are we holding waste or material looking for somewhere to go? When will economic growth and the amount of waste be decoupled? How will the consumption behaviour of people and businesses take a more ecological direction? These are some of the things we consider in Oulun Energy’s circular economy team, which is passionate about what most people want to get rid of.
Name: Teemu Koskela
Title: Circular Economy Director
The author is responsible for the management and development of Oulun Energia's circular economy business operations. The company's goal is to develop the circular economy into a strategic foothold for the entire Group.
Teemu and his team invest in building strong partnerships, developing new service solutions, and building a business that responds to future circular economy challenges.
The operating principle of Oulun Energia's circular economy team is high-quality, safe, and value-producing work that improves the environmental footprint of society. In his spare time, Teemu is an active person both on his own and with his children, and he does repairs and renovations on his old house.
How can better waste recovery lead society towards activities that support carbon-neutral biodiversity?
Around 160,000 tonnes of municipal waste, 70,000 tonnes of trade and industrial waste and more than 20,000 tonnes of ash. These are the waste streams Oulun Energia’s circular economy services took receipt of in 2021. What becomes of it all? Oulun Energia’s Laanila ecopower plant is highly efficient at recovering municipal waste to turn it into district heat, industrial process steam and electric energy. The energy amount produced by the ecopower plant heats more than 20,000 detached homes. In turn, the suitable parts of the ash are recovered for use in forest fertiliser and earthworks construction, which helps to speed up forest growth and saves the use of virgin construction materials.
Recycled fuel replaces fossil fuel and saves biofuel equating to the heat consumption of some 10,000 detached homes
The address for trade, industrial and construction waste is Rusko, our waste sorting facility completed in 2020 and where a highly automated process turns what seems an inconsolable pile of waste into fractions for recovery.
I talked to our circular economy manager Heikki Harju-Autti, who works actively with northern Finnish waste companies, and asked how he would describe what we do. Heikki considers that recovering construction waste is a major national, and why not international for that matter, challenge to which we try to respond.
“Our Rusko sorting facility produces solid recovered fuel (SRF) from the mixed piles of waste produced by companies. SRF replaces fossil fuel and saves biofuel equating to the heat consumption of some 10,000 detached homes. Besides this, our sorting facility can help us to separate recyclable metals, fibres and plastics from the waste,” Heikki replied.
“Our new sorting facility means we can offer a world-class recovery solution for half of Finland’s corporate waste, a solution which notices even the smallest, least valuable item of waste.”
Heikki Harju-Autti, Circular Economy Manager
We seek new solutions to make the environmental handprint of what we do better each day than the day before
When waste changes owner, the material and responsibility for it change with it. This usually involves headlines that we come across all too often in waste matters. At Rusko, Saara Palo-oja is responsible for developing the sorting facility’s operations and for environmental and quality issues and she has a lot to say:
“Responsibility is at the heart of everything we do. Our operations are guided by a deep understanding of our obligations related to waste processing and a desire to act as a leader on this front, too.”
For example, we currently monitor the quality of our solid recovered fuel (SRF) three times more closely than the relevant standard requires.
“In addition, we are continuously seeking new solutions to increase the efficiency of sorting operations so that the environmental handprint of our operations is better each day than the previous,” Saara says.
We are constantly improving our understanding of how people and businesses work and consider how we can act in a way that future generations can be proud.
Saara Palo-oja, Project Manager
We are investing heavily in circular economy solutions of the future in cooperation with our partners
Efficiency, responsibility and showing the way. How can this be achieved? Through partnerships, close cooperation and a strong belief in a better tomorrow.
We want to grow in various circular economy solutions in North Finland and in the whole country, and why not internationally?
We are fervently exploring opportunities to intensify partnerships between different organisations on a win-win basis.
We promise to be a reliable partner that offers a competitive waste recovery solution, is not afraid of challenges and is ready for heavy investments for circular economy solutions of the future.
Our dream is to close material cycles and significantly reduce the carbon footprint resulting from consumption by people and businesses.
These are our strong visions that I want to make a reality as circular economy director.
Circular economy team professionals: Saara Palo-oja, Antti O. Mattila, Heikki Harju-Autti (front), Jari Niskanen and Teemu Koskela.