Legislation

The regulations governing waste issues in Finland can be primarily found in the waste law –and provision as well as the law for the protection of the environment. Additional legislation governing the organization of waste management systems includes the law for the protection of health and the chemical law –and provision. There are also numerous EU directives that deal with waste and waste management. Summaries of some of the above follow:

The waste law –and provision became effective on 1.1.1994 and streamlined the Finnish waste legislation to be similar with that of the European Union. The law aims to support sustainable development by advocating economical usage of natural resources as well as mitigating the heath hazards arising from waste. The law not only provides guidelines for waste management but also for reducing the amount of waste produced and intensifying the reuse of existing wastes. The goals of the law include increasing the responsibilities of the waste producers, advocating the adopting of the “life-cycle” way of thinking to products and to promote the utilization of cleaner technology.

The law for the protection of the environment mainly deals with restricting the amount of waste and other emissions caused by industrial activity. The law includes several principles that serve as a basis for preventing the contamination of the environment. These include:

The most important obligation of entrepreneurs, as defined by the law, is that of awareness; the entrepreneur is obligated to be aware of the environmental impacts and risks that are brought about by his/her business, as well as the measures to be taken to minimize and manage both of them. This obligation concerns all businesses, although the extent to which it is applied is determined individually of each of them. In practise the obligation of awareness can mean measures such as monitoring the state of the environment and various measurement obligations (such as carbon dioxide emissions from a factory, for example).

The various EU directives contain these central principles of waste politics. They have been incorporated into the Finnish legislation.

Another important aspect of legislation governing waste issues in Finland is the so-called responsibility of the manufacturer. It stipulates that manufacturer of any given product is responsible for organizing and financing the reuse, recycling or utilization of the product itself and any waste resulting from the decommissioning of said products. The benefit of this is that environmental product design is advocated as the producer has to take into account the waste management and recycling of their product. It is hoped that the amount of waste produced will be reduced and the effectiveness of processing these wastes enhanced. The costs will, of course, be finally be paid by consumers as increased prices of the products.