The Nordic region continues to blaze trails on the zero-waste front, as innovators from across the region vie for the Nordic Council Environment Prize and a chance to bring their projects and initiatives to a global audience. The Council has announced the nominees for its 2017 prize, which seeks to raise awareness around the environmental work being done across the Nordic region. This year’s theme focuses on initiatives promoting, developing or initiating waste-free solutions.
The Nordic Council Environment Prize is awarded each year to a Nordic company, organization or individual to recognize exemplary efforts to integrate respect for the environment into their business, work or some other form of extraordinary initiative on behalf of the environment. The nominees and winner are chosen by a 13-person committee consisting of two representatives each from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland, as well as one each from the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland.
Nominees were announced at the People’s Festival in Bornholm, Denmark:
- Rec Alkaline Ltd: Based in Kärsämäki, Finland, Rec Alkaline Ltd has developed a groundbreaking method for recycling alkaline batteries, transforming their manganese, potassium, Sulphur and zinc components into a clean, micronutrient fertilizer. The process has the capability to raise the recovery rate above 80 percent from traditional approaches.
- RePack: Helsinki’s RePack is changing the e-commerce game with the introduction of its returnable and reusable packaging. Once the consumer received and unpacks their purchase, they simply drop the packaging into the nearest post box and the packaging is returned to RePack’s headquarters free of charge from anywhere in the world. RePack reduces CO2 emissions of e-commerce packaging by up to 80 percent and packaging can be reused up to 20 times.
- Lanspítali: Iceland’s National University Hospital Lanspítali is being recognized for its ambitious environmental policy. The hospital boasts a transport scheme for its staff and its canteen has Nordic eco-label certification. Lanspítali has also been recognized as a leader in waste sorting. Between 2012 – 2016, it almost quadrupled its plastic recycling and doubled its organic recycling. It now recycles eight times more paper than it did in 2012.
- Verandi: Skincare brand Verandi is changing the face of beauty with its line of all-natural skin products made from materials that would otherwise be discarded, such as coffee grounds and cocoa bean residue, and locally sourced products, such as crowberries left over from jam making.
- The Eyde Cluster: Consisting of 43 companies, The Eyde Cluster seeks to enhance competitiveness through efficiency and sustainable solutions. Cluster members actively engage in research and innovation activities that aim to make better use of resources from waste and side streams.
- Keep Norway Beautiful: This Norwegian nonprofit is working closely with government ministries to coordinate and manage efforts to document, clean up and prevent plastic pollution along the coast of Norway. In 2016, 18,500 people took part in 1,364 registered clean-up operations, collecting 377 tons of marine waste. Keep Norway Beautiful also initiated a historic partnership to combat marine pollution with similar organizations in other Nordic countries.
- Restarters Oslo: The Restart Project is a people-powered platform for change, helping demand emerge for more sustainable, better electronics. With the help of technically proficient volunteers, the project’s Oslo arm is teaching ordinary people how to repair their electronics in an effort to reduce electronic waste, CO2 emissions and the leak of toxins into the environment. The overarching objective is to encourage a repair culture for electronics.
- ALLWIN AB: Since 2010, ALLWIN AB has been reducing food waste in Sweden by collecting food from grocery stores that is fit for human consumption but routinely thrown out by shops. Retailers save money on disposal costs and the food is distributed to socially and financially disadvantaged people. Of the 75 million kg of food discarded in Sweden each year, ALLWIN recovers one million via 19,000 collections and provides the equivalent of 2 – 3 million meals to vulnerable members of the community.
- ICA and Rescued Fruits: ICA and Rescued Fruits work together to make use of food waste in the retail sector. Rescued Fruits turns ICA’s waste into a resource, creating high-quality products that ICA sells in its supermarkets. The partnership has cut waste and generated profits for both companies.
- Food Centre, Stockholm City Mission: The Stockholm City Mission collects food that would otherwise be discarded and distributes it to vulnerable people. It also provides training opportunities aimed at providing a foothold in the world of work. The Mission works in partnership with The Food Center, a nonprofit organization working with companies to reduce waste to reduce waste and support vulnerable people. Every month it collects 40 tons of food that would otherwise be thrown out. The Food Center’s work involves large-scale logistics, with a central depot, two “social supermarkets” and a foodbank group that distributes to social enterprises in Stockholm.
- Swedish Algae Factory: Founded in 2014, the Swedish Algae Factory is a Gothenburg-based startup that is developing algae-based wastewater treatment systems with the aim of transforming algae biomass into bio crude oil. The silica derived the algae is also being used to enhance the efficiency of solar panels.
The winner of the 23rd Nordic Council Environment Prize will receive DKK 350,000 (€47,000) at a ceremony in Helsinki, Finland on November 1, 2017. Past winners include Selena Juul for her work on food waste, Norwegian environmental organization Bellona, Greenland environmental organization Inuit Circumpolar Conference, Åland’s Agenda 21 office, the City of Albertslund in Denmark and the Scandic hotels.