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Orthex increases the use of recycled plastics: “We manufacture plastic products from the plastic packaging collected from consumers”

Orthex is a plastic product manufacturer familiar to all Finnish people. It makes buckets, baskets and flowerpots, nowadays also from plant-based and recycled materials. CEO Alexander Rosenlew hopes that chemical recycling will speed up the use of recycled plastic.

Image: Petteri Tuukkanen, Berry Creative

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“Orthex is a company with a long history, having begun its operations in the 1950s. We were already using surplus products from industry as a raw material in the 1990s. Nowadays, we use the plastic Finnish consumers have sorted into collection boxes. For example, Orthex’s flowerpots are made from recycled plastic.

In the past 10 years, sustainable development has become an important part of our strategy. In every decision we make, we reflect on how the solution could be better from the point of view of the environment. We also want to be a company that uses things and materials that have been thrown away.

Young people in particular are interested in products made of recycled plastic. Also, the buckets we make from recycled fishing nets have attracted interest from large European retailers.

We cannot use recycled plastic in our kitchen products and cooking utensils as the authorities do not approve goods made from recycled plastic for food use. This is why we use bio-based materials such as sugar cane to make them. Generally speaking, we consider recycled plastic better from the point of view of the circular economy. Recycled plastic products do not require virgin raw materials at all.

Chemical recycling would be one way to make recycled plastics available for food use. The method means that plastic is broken down into the original material form so that it can be used as a raw material again. The know-how required for the implementation of chemical recycling is available, but the process is not yet economically viable. Chemical recycling would make it possible for us to manufacture transparent objects made of recycled plastic in the future.

Collaboration is important for us. For example, we have been developing bioplastic based on cellulose and sugar cane with Stora Enso. Kesko collects the buckets in which flowers are stored and we use them to make new flowerpots.

Our aim is to make our production carbon-neutral by 2030. We will reach 90 per cent of that goal by making changes to our production. As for the rest of the emissions, we will compensate for them. For production to be carbon-neutral, 80 per cent of it must be based on recycled or biomaterial. That figure is currently 14 per cent. The goal is ambitious, but I believe we will reach it. And as soon as recycled plastic is approved for food use, we can further increase the use of recycled plastic.

Today, people want to work for a company that leaves the earth to the next generations in a better condition. I also hope that in the future consumers will no longer accept products that have not been produced responsibly.”

 

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The most interesting companies in the circular economy in Finland 2.1

The most interesting companies in the circular economy is a list compiled by Sitra to showcase Finland’s most inspiring examples of the circular economy. Sitra is using the list as a way to challenge Finnish companies to meet the changing needs of the world.

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