Why are we developing circular economy solutions in Espoo?

Published: 26.8.2021 3.24
Models and sketches on the table.
In a circular economy, design plays an important role. A well-designed product is durable and easy to repair. Even the success of recycling is considered in advance at the designer’s desk.

Did you know that our City Garden composts horse manure from nearby stables or that recycled asphalt is used for infrastructure construction? Many circular economy solutions have been commonplace in different fields for a long time.

In recent years, however, it has been found that the circular economy offers even greater economic opportunities for both the city and companies. In addition, new circular economy solutions are needed in order to achieve the goals of sustainable development. That is why we have started projects relating to the circular economy and, for example, signed a commitment to the circular economy.

What is the circular economy?

The circular economy is much more than just recycling and has a strong link with climate change prevention, the sustainable use of natural resources and the preservation of biodiversity.

The circular economy is a new economic approach involving sustainable operation within the limits of the carrying capacity of the Earth. Natural resources are used sparingly, thus minimising waste and litter. In addition to individual goods and services, the whole society, including the city, is made sustainable. This means new ways to act and solve challenges. Goods, components and materials remain in circulation for as long as possible while remaining as valuable as possible. The circular economy may involve, for example, sharing, repairing or reusing products or recycling materials.

Seeking sustainable growth with the circular economy

In accordance with the Espoo Story, we want to offer our residents the opportunity to live a good life. Our city is constantly growing, and in a pioneering city, this must be done in a sustainable way. The circular economy enables the sustainable use of materials, for example in construction, while creating new innovations and jobs.

It is particularly important in a circular economy to notice its economic potential. Shared cars, peer-to-peer car rental, clothing rental shops, waste food applications, bio-based alternatives to plastics and repair, update and maintenance services that extend the life of goods are examples of new and old business that utilises the circular economy. Waste heat can be recovered, thereby reducing dependence on fossil fuels. When the whole world starts to combat climate change, pioneering companies will have the opportunity for sustainable growth.

Reducing climate emissions with the circular economy

Espoo has an ambitious goal of being carbon neutral by 2030. The most significant sources of emissions are the heating of buildings and mobility. Although there is still a lot of work to be done in reducing total emissions, the per capita emissions of the growing city have already been halved. The figure is the lowest in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area.

When examining the amount of greenhouse gas emissions, it should be noted that consumption-based emissions by residents or businesses are not included in the carbon neutrality target. For example, greenhouse gas emissions from construction, food, goods or travelling elsewhere do not appear in the city’s statistics. A resident’s own carbon footprint is easily up to three or four times higher than the city-specific figure.

Some of the circular economy measures, such as minimising food waste, favouring vegetable proteins, extending the lifespan of goods, using various rental and sharing services or making more efficient use of premises, are not largely reflected in the city’s own reduction of climate emissions but are important parts of reducing the city residents’ emissions. Of course, some other circular economy measures can be seen, such as the utilisation of waste heat or the use of biogas produced from sewage sludge as fuel for cars.

So the city does its own climate work and reduces direct greenhouse gas emissions generated in the city but also promotes a circular economy in order to enable the residents to lead a sustainable lifestyle and to support companies in sustainable growth.