OPINION

Four Industries Where Finnish Startups Could Become Circular Economy Leaders

Written by Kim Oguilve Read time 4 min

We are moving towards a circular economy where consumption is increasingly based on using services rather than owning things. Companies are changing their operating models and revenue models — the ways we used to make a profit may not always work in future business life. — Sitra

Four Industries Where Finnish Startups Could Become Circular Economy Leaders

It doesn’t come as a surprise that the way many businesses manufacture their products is becoming fatally harmful to the environment. Let’s ping the fashion industry as an example. The traditional “linear economy” has been at the forefront of production for way too long leaving this earth with almost no chance to continue breathing.

Waste has become the main problem in product manufacturing because it is what ends up in our rivers and oceans. To mention a very worrisome problem that we have right now is plastic waste. It is estimated that by 2050 all seabirds will have plastic in their stomach. Worrying right? Plastic waste is just one of the many other problems.

The new wave of companies betting on circular economy models could be the breath that mother earth very much needs. A company whose business models is based on circular economy focuses on providing services rather than owning things. In fact, Finland is recognized to be leading the forefront of rethinking our long-established ways.

Sitra, a Finnish innovation fund has been releasing a yearly list of the most interesting circular economy companies. Out of the existing 98 companies, Sitra has listed, over 30% are listed startups in different industries challenging the traditional ways business is done. Let’s take a look:

Fashion Industry

  • Zadaa: This marketplace app allows you to buy and sell second-hand clothes from users that share your measures. It is no secret that the Nordics are known for their second-hand purchasing culture, however, Zadaa has taken this to mobile, making it easily accessible for anyone to shop for clothes. A user can simply register on Zadaa, fill out their measure and start browsing clothes. Zadaa has implemented a secure payment and delivery system that guarantees for the seller to receive the payment once the buyer has confirmed the item was received.
  • The Infinited Fiber Company: These guys have developed a process technology that can turn textile waste into new fibers. However, their promise is that the process can be done an infinite amount of times without decreasing the quality of the fiber. This could be a game changer in the fast fashion industry.

Packaging Industry

  • Sulapac: By utilising renewable and sustainable raw materials, Sulapac is able to produce fully biodegradable packaging material. They use wood from sustainably managed Nordic forests that don’t contain harmful components, plus it has a low carbon print and can be processed the same way as plastic. Not only this company is making fully biodegradable packaging but also helping fight the waste coming from plastic packaging.
  • RePack: For online shopping, RePack offers reusable packaging that is eco-friendly. Their packaging is made from recycled polypropene that protects the goods better than any other single-use packaging in the market. RePack partners with different online retailers that will then offer the RePack option when placing an order online and choosing Repack as your delivery option.

Sharing Economy

  • Rent-a-Park: Parking spot owners have now the possibility to list their parking spots for other people to rent them. Rent a Park makes it easy for people to book available parking spaces even before you leave home, helping you to eliminate circling around for parking. Of course, those ones listing the spaces get paid for each booking they receive.

Food Industry

  • Verso Food: This Finnish company produces vegetarian foods from Finnish fava beans. These beans are a great source of protein and dietary fiber and a sustainable alternative to soy. Fava beans’ protein and fiber content can make you feel full for hours. For Verso Foods, creating this products sourcing local ingredients is at the heart of what they do.
  • Gold & Green: Oats have never been thought to be a tasty substitute for soy. However, Gold & Green cracked the code and developed the perfect protein choice for both vegetarians and “flexitarians” made out of Nordic oats and beans.

The above examples are just a few out of all the other startups being highlighted as circular economy precursors on Sitra’s list. Yes, already established companies such as Konecranes or Lindström have developed sections in their product offerings that are based on circular economy, however, these sections are not what dominates their offerings. Startups, in contrast, build solutions tackled to fix very specific problems with a sustainable mindset to kick start their businesses. Startups are already becoming circular economy leaders and this is definitely just the beginning.

If you are interested in staying up to date as to what different circular economy companies are doing in Finland, go check out Sitra’s resources. Events wise in the Nordics, heading over to Katapult Future Fest in Oslo or Slush are definite good places to be if you are looking for inspiration and people and products to challenge our outdated mindsets.