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Chemistry in the Circular Economy

Circular economy is a way to more sustainable development and a great economic opportunity. In a circular economy resources are not used by the traditional” take, make, dispose” paths. Instead, they are kept at their highest utility and value for as long as possible. Waste and side streams are treated as valuable sources of raw materials.

People and companies with expertise in chemistry have a special role in the development of a more circular society. Molecular approaches are needed to detect valuable molecules and to close the loops safely. A variety of targets has been set via regulation and companies’ commitments. For example, the EU regulation states that half of the municipal waste has to be recycled by 2020 and half of the plastics packaging waste by 2025. There is a great need to further develop both collection of waste and refining technologies. In a real circular economy waste and side streams are used to replace virgin raw materials, and not only for the manufacturing of low value products.

Circular chemistry in the ChemBio event at Messukeskus exhibition and congress centre

Chemists have traditionally focused their activities in the synthesis and analysis of matter. The chemistry of circular economy introduces in the palette the breaking down of matter on a molecular scale. Interesting facts are that circular economy encompasses all materials, no matter whether they are renewable, fossil or mineral, and that the cycles of different types of materials are interlinked. The circular economy renews R&D, production, consumption as well as business models and regulation.

Did you become interested? Come and learn more and join the discussion in the seminar ”Chemistry in the Circular Economy”. The seminar is free of charge and organized in English as a part of the ChemBio event on March 27th. Several case-examples of circular chemistry and its environmental and economic benefits are presented, F.ex. in the areas of water (Kemira), plastics (RISE, Research Institutes of Sweden) and tall oil (Kraton). Top experts from Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency, University of Eastern Finland and Nordic Swan Ecolabel also highlight the new challenges and opportunities in occupational safety, chemical regulation and product labeling.

ChemBio 2019 programme

 

What is SusChem FI?

The development of circular economy necessitates systemic changes in the society, and thus partnerships and co-operation between different actors play a crucial role. In 2018, the Technical Research Centre of Finland VTT, the Chemical Industry Federation of Finland and Smart Chemistry Park, initiated SusChem FI, the Finnish technology platform of sustainable chemistry. It is part of the European technology platform of sustainable chemistry, which acts as a network for industry, academia and research centres and governmental bodies. The special mission of SusChem FI is to promote circular economy and bio-economy through chemical and biochemical innovations. In the seminar, the operation of SusChem FI is presented.

SusChem FI

 

Maija Pohjakallio
Technical Research Centre of Finland, VTT