We are in the middle of a green transition, which brings with it multiple new business opportunities and innovative business models. Existing businesses are urged to change from linear, take – make – waste – models to circular ones and new businesses need to start designing their ideas into reality with the circular economy principles in mind.
Finland is one of the leading countries in implementing circular economy practices and has one of the world’s most ambitious goals to be climate neutral by 2035. Numerous Finnish companies have based circular principles in their core and new circular businesses are born constantly.
Kiilto, Touchpoint and Neste represent successful Finnish businesses that are already part of the green transition and demonstrate that circular business models can be just as profitable as linear ones.
CASE KIILTO – GREEN BUSINESS IS PROFITABLE BUSINESS
Kiilto is a century old chemical industry pioneer. Sustainability is built in the heart of Kiilto’s operations, maybe partly because of the family owned background. “We are here to stay,” says Raija Polvinen, Kiilto’s Director for RDI. “We see sustainability and environmental responsibility as the only way for future success. Our environmental goals are integrated to every-day decision making.”
Kiilto’s promise to the environment is to consider sustainability in every part of the value chain – not just in the end product. Starting from choosing the sources for energy and materials as well as packaging and logistics to the product itself, Kiilto goes for the greener option – and helps the customer to do so as well.
With the support of its forward-looking research projects, Kiilto continuously invests in greener processes and material solutions. Although circular models are developing fast, Polvinen has identified a shortage in value chains enabling circularity in larger form and the enormous business potential that lies in it. “We are only in the beginning in building circular economy value chains,” says Polvinen.
CASE NESTE – A TRADITIONAL OIL COMPANY TURNING INTO LEADING COMPANY IN CIRCULAR SOLUTIONS
Neste has moved towards a circular business with the feedstock coming as waste and residues from the society. Neste has recognized the need to reduce the use of crude oil in their processes, both to get less dependent on it and to become more environmentally friendly.
“A big step was to start working with renewable waste and residues and turn them into feedstock”, tells Petri Lehmus, VP, Research and development for Neste. “Currently we are working very strongly in bringing renewable feedstock also to our traditional refinery and on the other hand, to use for example chemical recycled waste, such as liquefied waste plastics to substitute crude oil”.
In other words, Neste uses low quality feedstock and by technological know-how turns it into high quality drop-in solution that does not require any new investments from the customer. Today, 94 % of Neste’s profit comes from renewables business.
CASE TOUCHPOINT – FORERUNNER IN CIRCULAR TEXTILE SOLUTIONS
Touchpoint offers a wide selection of sustainable workwear and was born with sustainability in its core. The CEO of Touchpoint Noora Salonoja recognizes the value of strategic partnerships in reaching sustainability and circularity goals. “As a small company from a small market, we cannot fix circularity of textiles in larger scale alone,” says Salonoja. “When expanding the knowledge and core competence, you have to face the fact that there are no fast lines to circularity but it takes time to educate yourself and to find the right partners.”
Touchpoint is committed to take back all the textiles that they deliver to their customers and responsibly recycle them their own recycling facility Rester, the only textile recycling facility in the Nordics that was opened last week. “Founding Rester was a huge investment for a company of our size,” says Salonoja. “The fact that it was us who took the initiative to find our own textile recycling plant was something I think was quite unique and shows we have the courage and stamina to make things happen.”
CIRCULAR BUSINESS MODELS CAN BE IMPLEMENTED BROADLY
These three cases demonstrate that not only new companies can utilize circular business models successfully but also traditional companies are able to transform their operations as a whole. By including sustainability in the core of a company’s strategy and having clear targets and ambitions this can be achieved by companies of all kind.
”I hope these cases inspire and engage other Finnish companies to transform to be more sustainable as there is a great demand in the market for renewable and recyclable solutions that enable achieving low carbon targets. The Recovery and resilience faciliety (RRF) gives great opportunity for sustainable innovation funding for Finnish companies at the moment,” says Marika Ollaranta, Head of Lowcarbon and circular economy from Business Finland.