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Biolan uses by-products from different sectors: “Half of the well-known product Musta Multa is compost mixture”

For 40 years, Biolan has been processing by-products from agriculture and the forest industry for its products. According to Hannamaija Fontell, Director of Product Development, biofibre is the future of growing mediums.

Image: Petteri Tuukkanen, Berry Creative

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“The circular economy has been at the heart of Biolan’s operation from the very beginning. Biolan began almost 50 years ago by developing a fertiliser from chicken manure.

I have been working at Biolan since 2007. About 10 years ago, the societal discussion about the circular economy increased and we also began more determined collaboration with different sectors and research projects.

We want to avoid using virgin natural resources in the production of growing mediums and fertilisers. For example, Musta Multa, a well-known product, has undergone huge changes. Less than half of the product now consists of virgin raw material. More than half consists of a renewable compost mixture that we have manufactured from the side streams of agriculture and the forest industry.

We use different bark fractions and fibres from the forest industry, and receive different side streams, such as manure, from agriculture and food processing.

We were already collaborating with the forest industry as early as the 1980s. This long-term collaboration is now bearing fruit, as under the EU directive the biodegradable side streams created in the forest industry must be used. We can now use it as raw material in the product.

A genuine desire to develop the operation is visible at Biolan. There are no holdouts. The culture of experimentation is strong. Pekka Kariniemi, the Chair of our Board, says that impossible is impossible until we do it.

According to our sustainability commitment, we will give up the use of peat by 2040. With regard to consumer products, I will be disappointed if it does not happen before this deadline. It is more difficult to find alternatives for peat on the professional side because many greenhouse farmers have invested in production methods using peat-based growing mediums. Elsewhere in Europe, farmers do not use peat but growing mediums based on coconut or wood fibre.

We are planning to invest in a production plant in which we intend to use the side streams from the forest industry and forest-based biomasses even more diversely. The production plant is one of the concrete measures we will take to create alternatives for peat-based growing mediums. It will be the first of its kind in Finland.”

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