Industrial plastics were recycled with enthusiasm

Kaarea and Oral Hammaslääkärit have joined Kiilto’s development project and started recycling plastic materials they use. A follow-up to the successful pilot project is already in the works.

Spaghetti bolognaise is being prepared today at the Turku University Hospital nutrition centre. Special diets are catered for with separate foods, such as pureed soups that are easier to swallow. Kaarea employees, who are responsible for the hospital’s food service, also prepare the meals for the staff canteen.

According to Kaarea service manager Sanna Lainela, special attention is naturally paid to ensuring a high standard of cleanliness in the hospital’s large kitchen.

“A lot of detergents are used, which also creates a lot of empty packaging”.

In the spring, Kaarea joined Kiilto’s pilot project aimed at promoting the recycling of plastic packaging from companies. The idea was to gather experiences of recycling and develop suitable operating models.

“We already recycle biowaste for further use, for example, so we were eager to start recycling plastic as well”, Lainela says.

Hassle-free recycling

Sanna Lainela and shift manager Elisa Tuominen are very satisfied with the experience gained through the project.

“A Kiilto representative trained the staff, and we also received clear instruction materials. The recycling itself is very easy. All you need to do is take the caps off empty detergent packs, lightly rinse them and then put them in the recycling bag. Lassila & Tikanoja collect the bags periodically”, Tuominen explains.

Lainela says that on her holidays, she drove past Lassila & Tikanoja’s Merikarvia factory, where packaging is processed and ground to provide material for new, similar packaging.

“Plastic is a valuable raw material. It’s great to be able to give it a new lease of life”.

Kaarea has already agreed that plastic recycling will continue after the pilot period.

“I also encourage other companies to join in the development of the recycling of plastics”, says Lainela.

Oral Hammaslääkärit were ready right away

“I would say all of our staff recycle plastic at home. We were pleased that we have now been offered the opportunity to do so in the workplace as well”.

The dental clinic uses an exceptionally large quantity of detergents and disinfectants, so large amounts of waste packaging accumulate all the time.

“Good hygiene is vital for our work. After each visit, all surfaces that have been touched or are likely to be exposed to aerosols are carefully washed and disinfected before the next customer. In addition, all instruments are sent for sterilisation after use.”

The Oral Hammaslääkärit dental clinic has also already agreed that plastic collection will continue after the end of the pilot period.

“Hopefully, the healthcare sector more broadly will begin recycling plastics. Of course, there are different treatment routes for contaminated or dirty packaging, but a lot of clean plastic waste also accumulates in the industry. This is well suited as a raw material for new plastics.”

More recycling to come

Kiilto’s pilot project, which involved recycling high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic packaging, also involved several other organisations: SOL Palvelut, Viking Line, Naantali Spa Hotel & Resort, Lassila & Tikanoja, and Raseko, the Raisio regional education and training consortium.

According to Kiilto product development manager Heidi Kähkönen, the collection of HDPE packaging has also begun at Kiilto’s factory in Turku. This has reduced the amount of plastic waste considerably.

“Overall, the experience of packaging collection has been so good that the project is set to continue. More information will be announced later”, Kähkönen promises.