“It would be great if there were less plastic packaging,” says Roz, who took part in SATO’s recycling event. And she’s absolutely right. Plastic often ends up in mixed waste, which places a serious burden on the environment in the long run.
Careful recycling and waste sorting help save natural resources and energy, and reduce the problems caused by landfills.
Many residents, however, would like more information about waste sorting.
SATO’s recycling and waste-sorting events focus on the basics of sorting. For example: Where should used paper towels go? (Biowaste). And an electronic thermometer? (With electronic devices, which are received separately at recycling and waste stations and by stores that sell electronic devices.)
By increasing residents’ knowledge, SATO aims to reduce the volume of mixed waste in the properties it owns. It is one of the main objectives of SATO’s Sustainability Programme.
“A lot of products that can be reused or recycled as a material still end up in mixed waste. We want to make recycling easier for our residents by bringing recycling containers to the yards of our buildings and by offering recycling-related events like these,” explains SATO’s Corporate Responsibility Advisor, Tiina Lehti.
In autumn of 2019, SATO organized around a dozen recycling events in the capital city area together with the Helsinki Region Environmental Services Authority (HSY) and the Helsinki Reuse Centre.
Roz and her friend Zubaida, along with Zubaida’s father, are taking part in a recycling event arranged in their building in Pakkala, Vantaa. On a table set up in the club room there are pictures of different waste-sorting bins. Ilkka Vartiainen from the Helsinki Reuse Centre hands out cards representing various types of waste to the residents, who must then place them on top of the correct sorting bin picture. It’s a garbage game!
“The electronic devices were the toughest category, because I didn’t know what it included, but now I do!” says Zubaida.
“It’s fun trying to figure out where waste belongs,” says Roz, who learned about waste sorting at school and at home from a young age.
Ilkka expertly answers questions posed by the girls and other residents and stresses the reuse of items as the foundation for all recycling. When household waste is sorted into the correct bins, it can then be delivered to a recycling center.
“I am often asked about the correct recycling of various household items down to very precise details,” says Ilkka.
The residents who have arrived listen intently to the recycling lecture. People are especially interested in the more challenging recyclable items in their day-to-day lives, for instance, household appliances and less common electronic devices.
“These events are for sharing experiences and learning something new, not to mention getting to know one’s neighbors,” stresses Community Manager Piia Matilainen (above), who is in charge of SATO’s recycling and sorting events.
The events will pick up again in the spring of 2020, and the intention then is to focus on the hot topic of biowaste, among other things.
Many residents have wondered especially about cooking waste.
“Residents may prepare greasy meals, and without proper sorting, the fats that are used to prepare the food will end up in the sewage pipes,” says Antti Tuomola, Service Manager for SATO’s Pakkala building.
Piia and Antti admit that the residents who are most likely to take part in the events are those who are otherwise interested in the topic. The goal, however, is to get all SATO residents excited about recycling through dialogue and by offering support.
In 2019, SATO generated 4.3% less mixed waste in the properties of the capital region than in the previous year. The aim is to reduce waste volumes, for example, by bringing plastic-recycling bins to all of SATO’s buildings in the Helsinki metropolitan area. Sorting is also being made easier in Pakkala with clearer markings on waste bins.
“We have put different stickers on the bins in the waste shelters so that the recyclable waste bins stand out clearly,” says Antti.
In SATO’s new and renovated buildings, recycling is being taken a step further – apartments will be given waste buckets that are made of recycled plastic and are color-coded according to the waste bins in the building’s waste-collection points.
When mixed waste is reduced by improving sorting deficiencies and increasing awareness, the carbon footprint of SATO home buildings is also reduced over their lifetime.