Rinki eco take-back points are doing well. The network handles 2.5 million kilos of carton packaging and a million kilos of plastic packaging a month, as well as metal and glass packaging. But what exactly are Rinki eco takeback points?

Rinki eco take-back points form a recycling network of consumer packaging waste within Finland. There are currently 1855 Rinki eco takeback points located throughout Finland, and they collect carton, plastic, metal and glass packaging. Europress waste compactors are used at the busiest eco take-back points for recycling carton and plastic packaging.

The eco take-back points are managed by Finnish Packaging Recycling RINKI Ltd, a nonprofit service company owned by Finnish industry and retail trade. The company’s mission is to ensure that sorting packaging is easy for consumers and that implementing producer responsibility is easy for businesses. Rinki works together wth 5 producer organisations (PROs).

Producer responsibility is a legal obligation for businesses in Finland. It means that companies that pack products in Finland or import packed products for the Finnish market are responsible for the entire process of collection and recycling of their packaging waste. By signing a contract administered by Rinki, companies can transfer their legal obligations to PROs.

“It is worth adopting best practices from other countries, says Juha-Heikki Tanskanen, CEO of Finnish Packagingm Recycling RINKI Ltd.

The network of Rinki eco take-back points has operated since 2016. Over the past six years, the network has enjoyed a lot of success and also learned valuable lessons from experience.

“We have always had a clear vision of the direction in which we want to develop our network of Rinki eco take-back points. Good cooperation with producers, trade, municipalities and with PROs, producers, has been the key to our success,” says Juha- Heikki Tanskanen, CEO of Finnish Packaging Recycling RINKI Ltd.

Along the way, the number of eco take-back points has increased especially at retail outlets, as they have proven to be natural places for returning used packaging. The cleanliness of the eco take-back points and accumulation of packaging are closely monitored. The aim is to empty the containers when they are as full as possible but without compromising availability or tidiness. This requires determining the optimal emptying intervals and collection means for each point.

“We try to install waste compactors at points with the highest material accumulations or variations. Accumulation spikes are easier to manage with waste compactors than with traditional collection equipment,” Tanskanen points out.

The Europress SMART service is used effectively to optimize the emptying intervals of waste compactors. The more than 400 waste compactors at Rinki eco take-back points currently form the largest single customer network for Europress and therefore provide an important pilot platform for the smart functions designed to optimize large networks. According to Kimmo Jussila, Major Account Director at Europress, the SMART service enables fill levels to be monitored in real time, which in turn makes it easy to react quickly to changing needs.

“We recently added the SMARTwaste mobile app to Rinki’s tool kit, which makes the system even faster to use. In addition to monitoring fill levels, the app can be used to order service calls and monitor progress. The ability to respond rapidly to fault situations also reduces customer complaints, downtime and costs,” Jussila says.

The system is being continuously developed by Rinki, PROs and Europress. Tanskanen is very satisfied with this cooperation: “We have always had good dialog with Europress, also when dealing with challenging issues. Europress has always been ready to resolve any challenges that arise and has also proactively developed our cooperation. It is important to us that technical issues have been addressed rapidly,” the Rinki CEO says.

Tanskanen also has a message for all the countries where a network of public pick-up points is being set up or renewed. He notes that sufficient time and expertise are needed to set up an extensive network, so the project has to be planned well. The location of eco pick-up points and good communications channels for providing customer feedback are crucial for the development of an effective network. Tanskanen also recommends weighing during emptying, as it is a cost-effective way to optimize logistics and maintain a high level of service.

“Good cooperation is definitely an advantage. It is worth adopting best practices from other countries while also avoiding any pitfalls that have emerged,” Tanskanen encourages.

Text: Liisa Hyttinen
Photos: Finnish Packaging Recycling RINKI Ltd.

There are currently 1855 Rinki eco take-back points located throughout Finland.