The world needs solutions from pioneers in that wellbeing and economic growth can no longer be based on lavish use of natural resources. By developing the best, carbon neutral solutions in circular economy, Finland can be among the first to create wellbeing and prosperity in a new sustainable way. Finland is a pioneer in circular economy in international scale. The industrial symbiosis at the Kemi Tornio region, in turn, is one of the forerunners in the Finnish circular economy.
In order to spread the operating models from the Kemi Tornio region’s industrial circular economy, Sitra (the Finnish Innovation Fund) has been in cooperation with experts and education providers from the region. Sitra’s funding and cooperation with the City of Kemi promote education and know-how of industrial circular economy in national scale.
In 2016, world’s first national road map for promoting circular economy was compiled for Finland by Sitra, with a goal of creating a shared ambition to advance circular economy in the society and determining the most efficient methods for that. Sitra named the Industrial Circular Economy Innovation Platform, led by Kemin Digipolis Oy, as one of the key projects of the road map. The next step was a project where the Competence and Training Centre for Industrial Symbiosis in Kemi-Tornio was established.
The objective of the project was to describe the model for industrial symbiosis on an operative level and draw up guidelines for launching relevant projects, organize open workshops to present putting the models into practice, and identify needs for amendments to the law and incentives to promote industrial symbiosis (especially the EU Commission’s initiative to identify the interfaces between chemical and product legislation and the circular economy).
The founding members of and key operators at the Centre for Circular Economy and Bio Economy, established in Kemi, are Digipolis, the City of Kemi and the Lapland University of Applied Sciences. Establishing the competence centre was a logical continuation of Digipolis’s work on promoting circular economy. The industrial circular economy expert team from Digipolis is available for the Centre. Circular and bio economy are among the strategic development areas by the City of Kemi. The city wants to speed up Kemin Digipolis Oy’s successful development work in circular economy and creation of vitality within the city as well as nationwide.
Lapland University of Applied Sciences has chosen the development of circular and bio economy as a strategic focus area, and invested over 200 000 euros in the field, in addition to project work. Furthermore, the Lapland UAS has invested about 400 000 euros to research, development and innovation activities during 2017-2019. The circular economy education module was launched in 2018.
The Centre aims to develop a more competitive business environment for companies involved in the circular economy. We help companies to develop their business and products in circular economy by providing specialist guidance, applying for financing, bringing together businesses and creating networks and consortiums, assisting in creating pilots, scaling up etc.
One pivotal part of the Centre’s activities is gathering technical data (e.g. operating models, benchmarks, potential by-product flows as well as challenges and opportunities related to them) and distributing it also in a broader scope in Finland and Europe. Within these activities, the world of circular economy is popularized for example with success stories to different target groups such as decision makers, officials, designers, teachers, students etc.
An essential part of the activities of the Centre for Circular Economy is the network of Eco-Industrial Parks. With its help, operating models are put into practise, whilst developing them forward and promoting circular economy. The circular economy operating models are one part of the road map, which we are also developing. The Industrial Symbiosis Operating Model project was strongly related to the launch of the Centre for Circular Economy.
In addition to the founding members of and key operators at the Centre for Circular Economy and Bio Economy, the network members include Riihimäki’s Circular Economy Village and Fortum Oy; the Smart Chemistry Park in Turku; Kokkola Industrial Park; the Eco3 bioeconomy and circular economy business park in Nokia and Verte Oy; the development company Posintra and the Kilpilahti industrial area of Neste in Porvoo; Prizztech and the Harjavalta area in Pori; Metsäjaanu in Salo; Kemijärven Kehitys Oy and Patokangas bio-industrial park; and the City of Forssa and Envi Grow Park.
Kemin Digipolis is a founding member of the Nordic Industrial Symbiosis Network. This Nordic network has members from Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark, from industrial clusters, universities specialized in industrial circular economy research and eco-industrial parks. The Nordic network open new business opportunities in industrial circular economy and reinforces national cooperation networks.
In addition to Europe, the Centre’s international cooperation covers especially Asia. Taking part to Sitra’s World Circular Economy Forum in Yokohama, Japan, in 2018 is an example of the international networking events the Centre has taken part to. Furthermore, strengthening cooperation with Chinese operators, and in more general level internationally, is a pivotal objective for the Centre for Circular Economy.