17 participants from 10 organisations gathered to hear the latest project progress while being acquainted with one of the local CE related business when Kymenlaakson Jäte Ltd, one of the member organisations in the Kymenlaakso region’s CircPro stakeholder group, co-hosted Kymenlaakso region’s stakeholder meeting together with Kouvola Innovation Ltd.

Our stakeholders present in October’s partner meeting in Portugal shared their views on the kind of opportunities involvement in the project offers and what one can learn from this exchange of experience. These presentations gave rise to broader discussion about the opportunities and challenges related to circular economy and about the activities between different parties (both at home and abroad) in the project and more generally, e.g.: 

  • CircPro is a path both for getting new ideas, learning new knowledge and forwarding one’s own know-how 
  • Seeing that things go forward motivates and strengthens faith into own doings
  • Interregional meetings showcase the importance of collaboration and information exchange
  • Finland is one of the forerunners in circular economy and this expertise should be shared to others
  • Attitude change (traditionally lots of talk but no action, but experiences and commitment from others encourage to act) requires new mindset and close collaboration within actors from different sectors and remits
  • Challenges related to construction and demolition, and how to match the supply and demand of recycled materials in these sectors, were also discussed – e.g. opportunities of “Materiaalitori”, a novel service for the professional exchange of waste and production side streams from companies and organisations administered by the Ministry of Environment and Motiva Ltd, were brought up.
  • Role of public purchaser, when planning the purchases and setting criteria for the call for tenders, as a key player for advancing the use of recycled and demolition waste materials, was also discussed.

Carbon Neutral Municipalities (Hinku) network, Roadmap for Carbon Neutral Kymenlaakso 2040 and Kymenlaakso’s Research and Innovation Strategy for Smart Specialisation (RIS3) were also briefly touched upon. These all have circular economy and sustainability aspects in them and as such, they can support CircPro's goals in developing the circular procurement scene.   

In the Hinku-network municipalities are committed to an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2007 levels by 2030 and currently the network include 60 municipalities together with a large group of companies and experts as partners. Kymenlaakso’s municipalities Kouvola and Kotka joined the network in 2019. Hamina, another Kymenlaakso municipality, was the region’s first Hinku-member by joining in 2017. Specific Hinku-province status can be applied when certain requirements set by the network are met. There are 21 provinces in Finland and two of them have acquired Hinku-province status only very recently (in November 2019). Kymenlaakso meets the requirements and will apply for the provincial status too.  

Roadmap for Carbon Neutral Kymenlaakso 2040 has been drafted and now the final version needs to be approved by the provincial administration before official launch. Circular procurements will be one of the tools for reaching the carbon neutrality goals in the whole province. 

Kymenlaakso’s Research and Innovation Strategy for Smart Specialisation (RIS3) will be updated during spring 2020 and the work will start in January. As the RIS3 is the region’s targeted policy instrument in CircPro project, being part of this updating process will be a focal point for Kouvola Innovation’s forthcoming activities within the project.  

Finally, representatives from our host organisation Kymenlaakson Jäte Ltd, plant manager Aki Koivula and communications manager Anne Sironen, presented us the type of materials they produce from waste and what type of CE projects/activities the company has already made and what is being planned for the future. Kymenlaakson Jäte Ltd is 100 % owned by the Kymenlaakso’s municipalities handling the statutory waste management services in Kymenlaakso area. As a public entity, it needs to follow the provisions of the Act on Public Procurement and Concession Contracts. As they have interesting prospects for their future purchasing practice and CE has a strong foothold in their business, their involvement in CircPro is important. Finally, we had the opportunity to have a guided tour in the Kymenlaakson Jäte Ltd’s waste management center area for familiarizing ourselves with its operations (facilities and technologies used).  

This type of co-hosted stakeholder meeting enabled to share the lessons learnt from the interregional partner meeting with our local stakeholder group while informing them of the circular economy activities already taking place in Kymenlaakso. This concept will be used in the forthcoming stakeholder meetings too.