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How Maria 01 is Building a Sustainable and Thriving Startup Campus

Maria 01 has partnered with L&T to advance to a circular economy and improve the daily lives of those interacting on campus. Here are some of the new waste management actions that will start to take place in Maria 01.

How Maria 01 is Building a Sustainable and Thriving Startup Campus

Change for Maria 01 was long due.

Sustainability at Maria 01 means transformation, but becoming sustainable is also the new standard for many businesses worldwide. We stay humble in the sense that we know we need to get better in areas such as waste management but also diversity and inclusion. But just being aware of our problems won’t take us to the ideal that our members aspire to themselves: a cleaner planet and a better experience for them on campus. 

Maria 01 did not have in place a proper waste management system for a very long time. Several challenges prevented our old hospital facility from acting fast upon the demands of our community – yes, our community frequently questioned our non-existent recycling practices, which kept us looking for solutions. Our waste management was reduced to cardboard and mixed waste – this had to change. 

As it is the common practice in most workplaces, waste management is often forgotten and not prioritized. Furthermore, it usually requires a dedicated resource to look at the real ways you’re doing your waste management and consequently plan the next steps to improve it. 

However, one of the most significant challenges for Maria 01 was that proper waste management was not a priority for the city division that takes care of hospital facilities – which as of today, we are still part of. Thus meaning that for us to add a proper waste management system, Maria 01 would have to look for an external partner to guide us towards that transition. 

Finding the right partner was crucial.

Collaboration is in our DNA and that of the whole community. Finding the right partner to help us solve our waste-management inefficiencies but also understand our capabilities was vital. Furthermore, selecting a partner that would share the ambition of advancing the circular economy in society would only help us to get better at becoming more environmentally sustainable and match the expectations of our campus members. 

That’s where Lassila & Tikanoja (L&T), came to the picture. 

L&T wants to make circular economy a reality.
Photo: Lauri Rotko

Lassila & Tikanoja is a service company that helps businesses find solutions in regards to recycling materials, side streams but also advice on how to make their facilities/properties sustainable. L&T had also been under transformation to match the demands of governments and society for a new sustainability standard.

That’s why in 2015, their story changed. In 2015 L&T did a transformation of its business by approaching challenges with a lean startup approach to develop and test new services. One of their latest and exciting projects is Deposits for Trees – a collaboration with the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation (FANC) in which bottle recycling will become incentivized by L&T by planting trees as bottles get recycled in collection points.

By bringing L&T onboard as our corporate partner, we embarked on the mission of analyzing our waste management process and finding out a solution. Through our collaboration, L&T assigned a resource to the project: Kimmo Heikkinen, “Chief of Circular Economy” for Maria 01. Kimmo has been helping us to analyze, plan, and implement our first steps towards a circular economy on campus.

New measures on campus.

In Finland and many other countries around the world, waste management is done under the “source separation” approach. Source separation means that you need to provide solutions for waste produced at the “source” – in our case office spaces and the campus as a whole. 

After an in-depth analysis of our current waste management processes, we decided to split the existing cardboard and mixed waste collection done by the City of Helsinki and add new bins for the materials managed by L&T: biowaste, cartons, plastic packaging, glass, and metal. 

Team Maria 01 and L&T on the day the new bins distribution and labeling took place.

Today, we have provided all shared areas on campus with new bins for the materials collection, communicated the latest changes, and given instructions to the community. 

The short term goal with this new waste management process is that we recycle most of the waste produced on campus that can be used later to create new raw materials. The long term goal is for Maria 01 to provide education and continuous support together with L&T to bring all of us on campus closer to a circular economy and advance climate goals. 

Maria 01 in the future.

First and foremost, the 2019 Impact Report we did in collaboration with The Upright Project was a tremendous inspiration for us to become more impact-driven in all our activities. Through that project, we understood that the typical vanity sustainability metrics say little; you need to understand the net impact of your own business in different parameters: environment, society, health, and knowledge.

If you want to dig deeper into the 2019 Maria 01 Impact report, you can check it here

Another meaningful project we conducted recently with our community was the value co-creation project we did with our in-house startup Innoduel (a participation platform that boosts employee engagement and speeds up decision making). We asked our community to help us create and validate the values behind our community. Asking our community what kind of campus they want to be part of, helps us stay focused in all our actions. 

Furthermore, we are making a whole campus carbon footprint calculation together with UseLess Company. We must measure the success of our actions. The calculation was done before the new waste management measures were put in place. Later on, we will reveal our carbon footprint report and make a follow up one year after our new waste management measures have been fully executed. 

We commit to applying an impact and sustainability-led mentality to everything we do.

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