Jätkäsaari is one of the largest construction projects in Helsinki. Picture: Antti Pulkkinen

Helsinki to become a trend blazer in circular economy

The City of Helsinki will launch a cluster programme for circular economy, which aims to promote both innovations and business, as well as climate objectives, in line with the circular economy. The City of Helsinki invites companies, research institutes, universities and other organisations that wish to promote the circular economy together through concrete actions.

During the early stages, the circular economy cluster focuses in particular on promoting the circular economy of construction, as the City of Helsinki plays a strong role as a client, developer and builder. For example, the management and utilisation of material flows requires multidisciplined development and coordinated cooperation between different actors. In addition, digital solutions and platform services play an important role in promoting the circular economy and the new business operations based on it.

A large proportion of construction companies operate in the Helsinki metropolitan area or in the wider metropolitan area. The material flows in the metropolitan area are substantial and the operations are located quite close to each other, making the cost of transporting the materials reasonable. In addition, a significant proportion of the actors developing and offering new solutions in the circular economy also operate here. In the metropolitan area, the reuse, recycling and processing of materials into recycled materials can certainly become a profitable business.

The first development measures are already under way

The actors participating in the circular economy cluster programme will jointly promote the recycling and availability of building materials and building parts. As one of the first concrete measures, the concept and operating model of the material circulation platform ecosystem will be developed by using Vattuniemi's pilot sites. There are 16 properties in the area that are owned by private companies. Mostly residential buildings will be built in the space. This pilot project examines how the anticipation of demolition surveys affects the circular economy of construction and uses data to develop a platform ecosystem for material circulation. The aim is to direct both demolition activities and also material reuses to circular economy construction.

The City of Helsinki finances the three-year cluster programme with approximately EUR 3 million. The programme and its plans were presented at an online event on 9 June. On the City of Helsinki’s side, the plans were presented at last week's online event.

"Our goal for 2035 is to implement a carbon-neutral circular economy in land use and construction in Helsinki, where natural resources are used sparingly and the carbon footprint during the life cycle is low”, says Anni Sinnemäki, Deputy Mayor of the City of Helsinki Urban Environment.

"Our carbon neutrality target also includes emissions from our supply chain, which account for approximately 90% of the emissions in our current reporting. Thus, cutting material-related emissions plays a really important role for us, and, as one of the means of doing this, we have identified different circular economy solutions," said  Hanna-Maija Tikka, Environmental Manager at Skanska, who summarised the goals of the cluster programme for the company.

Are you interested in your company or organization joining the cluster program? Register here.

In the future, current issues in the circular economy of construction can be monitored at https://testbed.helsinki/en/

As part of the Carbon-neutral Helsinki 2035 action plan, Helsinki has in may 2020 published a Roadmap for Circular and Sharing economy. Many of the roadmap’s actions relate to construction. Read more about it: https://helsinginilmastoteot.fi/en/city-act/circular-economy/

News image: Jätkäsaari is one of the largest construction projects in Helsinki. Jätkäsaari utilises, among other things, the recycling of land masses. Image: Antti Pulkkinen