A circular economy

A good life is no longer achieved by simply producing more and more goods. How do we move to a circular economy, in which consumption is based on using services – sharing, renting and recycling – instead of owning things?


What is it about?

Our perception of what constitutes progress is already more than a hundred years old. It is time for us to update this understanding to better suit a situation in which we are learning to adapt to the limits set by the carrying capacity of the earth.

The change is taking us towards a circular economy. We are moving towards an era in which we cannot increase well-being in societies through the mass production of more and more goods. The foundation of consumption in a circular economy is the use of services instead of owning things. Materials are not destroyed at the end of their useful life, but are used to make new products over and over again. By 2030, the added value provided by a circular economy for Finland’s national economy could be at least 3 billion euros per year.

Sitra’s work on the circular economy, which began at the end of 2014, is aimed at ensuring that Finland’s transformation to a society based on a circular economy is well under way by the end of 2019.

What do we do?

Sitra’s Circular Economy focus area conducts trials together with the Finnish people and explores the opportunities provided by a circular economy. We are motivating Finland to be the first country in the world to adopt a way of life that will carry us far into the 22nd century.

Over the next 5 to 10 years, we can become one of the pioneers, primarily by developing the areas in which Finland has traditionally been strongest: the use of forests, food production, industry, transport and administration. We want the new operating models to become the prevailing practices and exports.

Who participates?

This is about a fundamental change in the way society functions. It is not only about recycling, but also about the production of raw materials, the processing of materials, the manufacture of products, distribution, trade and consumption. We therefore work in co-operation with many others across society to develop a circular economy. Businesses, administrations, organisations and the media all work with us.

Where are we now?

The world’s first national road map to a circular economy was drawn up under the leadership of Sitra in 2016. This road map outlines the first concrete steps Finland will take towards a circular economy.

The implementation of the first steps is under way. We aim to bring sustainable local food into the everyday lives of Finnish people by, for example, accelerating the nutrient cycle, minimising food waste and supporting the use of renewable energy solutions in agriculture. We co-operate with all levels of education to ensure that circular economy thinking reaches as many Finns as possible.

We will host together with the Ministry of Environment of Japan the second World Circular Economy Forum on 22-24 October 2018 in Yokohama, Japan.

What have we achieved?

We have organised calls for ideas to find practical solutions for both nutrient cycling and the future of the forest industry. We have also encouraged the fashion and textile industry to create a development programme of its own, inspired young people and their thinking with a video competition and the assisted the organisers of large events through our co-operation with the Lahti 2017 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships.

We have published a list highlighting some of the most interesting business examples in the Finnish circular economy. We have updated the list twice since 2016 and it includes now almost 100 companies.

In June 2017, we organised the first ever World Circular Economy Forum, in which leading circular economy solutions from Finland and the rest of the world were on show.



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