Cleanest in Sweden – Jokkmokk!?

Calle founder of Plockenader i Jokkmokks kommun

Instead of letting it punch them down, Calle and Maria decided to do something about all the litter they found on their walks.

Calle, 4 years, and his mother Maria that lives in Vuollerim, Jokkmokk Municipality, used to clean up litter from nature when out walking with their dog. One day, after a particularly littery walk they decided that they wanted to do something more. In june 2020 they started the initiative “Plockenader i Jokkmokks kommun”, which translates to something like “walk and pick up litter in Jokkmokk Municipality”. Today the local Facebook group have around 200 engaged members that keep posting about their litter findings. The local ÅVC (municipality service that takes care of recycling etc) have supported the initiative with “plockenad-kits” with reflective vests and litter bags. Maria says that a similar initiative started in the neighboring municipality Boden after getting inspiration from them.

Maria gives us four strong arguments on why you shouldn’t litter:

  1. Litter is injuring the animals.
  2. Litter is harming nature.
  3. Litter is creating unsafe environments.
  4. Litter is costing a lot of money.

Read full blogtext (in Swedish) here.

Blogpost by
Amanda Mannervik
Strukturum, Sweden

Interview with Symbios of Sweden, Louise Mattsson

The newly funded startup Symbios of Sweden want to meet the need for resource mapping of industries that wants to become more circular. We had a talk with the systems entrepreneur and project manager Louise Mattsson, who is the founder and owner of the company.

Could you tell me a little bit about your newly started business and what you do?
I founded Symbios of Sweden because I saw that there is a missing actor on the market. Someone that is not an organization or a university that can do resource mapping of industries. My company is aimed at helping municipalities, entrepreneurs, organizations, universities, and research institutes that want to do projects at national, regional, and local level, and thereby map the balance between social, economic, and other resources for increased sustainability.  Cross-border co-operation within the Nordic region through Interreg projects is also beneficial for the exchange of experience and interaction. The company aims to contribute to a more sustainable society through its expertise and ideas on how to connect all aspects of society and actors to develop the circular economy in Sweden.

How do you work with shifting to – and helping others shift, to a sustainable and circular business?
Besides identifying the resource and material flow, I make SWOT-analysis of the area (which can be an industrial site, village, a region etc.), calculate the input and output and how many other companies that can be created because of better resource management. I also look at models for how many new job opportunitiespossible symbiosis can bring.The work can be based off interviews with companies and local residences, depending on the site. Every case is unique because the starting point are different for all the sites.Individual companies can get the same help from me and I intend to provide them with tools, guidelines, models, and key numbers, for them to develop the company’s activities.

What are your biggest obstacles today to become more sustainable?
The biggest threat is the Swedish law (of for example waste and side streams) that makes practical applications of models impossible. Development must move forward in this area and this is a slow process from the EU.

What speaks for a circular transition?
Back in 2017 when more people started talking about circular economy, there were few tools for how to use it. It was so new that companies did not know how to address it. I think that now, and especially because of the pandemic, people become more aware of how they are living and how fragile the society is. I think that helps with the circular transition. Both for people that wants to start with self sufficiency and move from cities, but also companies that see the value of their side streams and collaborating with others in different sectors.

Is there any knowledge or information that could help you, or your sector, in the transition?
The leading players today with a focus on industrial symbiosis are Linköping University, RISE and other organizations that have consortiums containing people from big companies. Linköping University has a broad platform and reaches many stakeholders and can have many projects ongoing. Their weakness is that they are only run with project support and are dependent on it. RISE has complete edge expertise in many areas and is available throughout the country, but no specific expertise covering the interdisciplinary areas and how to combine them with the technical ones. I collaborate with both to learn more and to be up to date with projects going on all over the country.

Are you in any collaboration with public sector?
I am open to collaborate with the public sector, absolutely! I think its an advantage to include all parts of society.

Any international collaboration?
When I worked at RISE as a sustainability engineer, I worked in an Interreg project together with several partners from Finland. Building bridges is something I like working with and Sweden has so much to learn from the other Nordic countries. I enjoy cross border collaborations and it is something I am hoping to have the chance to do more in my company.

What do you think other companies like yours would need to be more sustainable?
I think the key is flexibility and working online. Today we have platforms that enables us to reach out to a bigger crowd – and by that, helping more companies.

What would it take to make companies like yours involved in a project like GRUDE?
For me I have a general interest to be up to date and meet people. Networking is key for connecting industries and people. This area is still new and to concretize industrial symbiosis, all ideas need to be welcomed.

Something else you would like to tell?
I currently work for the municipality of Älvsbyn in the Interreg project Arctiq-DC where I map the resources of the industries in the area. Älvsbyn has big and known industries such as Polarbröd, Älvsbyhus and Älvsby energy, but also many green industries with farming and tourist focus. Depending on where I start mapping resources, it becomes apparent what puzzles are missing in the big picture. In general, Northern Sweden is good in heavy industry such as mining, steel production and forestry, and in some cases good at industrial symbiosis without intentionally implementing it. Instead, it can be the social values that are missing to complete the picture, which is the biggest difference between north and southern Sweden. Industrial symbiosis is heavy reliant on social symbiosis to create balance in societies to make people stay, that is the most important piece of the puzzle in my opinion.

Louise Mattsson, founder of Symbios of Sweden

Thank you for your time Louise and best of luck with your new business!

Blogpost by
Amanda Mannervik
Strukturum, Sweden

Heta Hyttan – a sustainable glassworks in Piteå, Sweden

Heta Hyttan is a traditional glasswork in Piteå (Norrbotten, Sweden) with genuine working methods – but its founder Linda Isaksson is far from traditional in her entrepreneurship. Linda tells the story of a company, and an entrepreneur, in continuous development on the journey towards sustainability.

Linda took the classical glasswork education at the prestigious Orrefors, Sweden, before becoming her own boss. She says that today the glass industry is mainly automated. She describes her own glasswork as a living museum with creative craftsmanship and a modern touch. Sustainability is important in every aspect and in Lindas work, reuse of material is the foundation of the glass making process.

When starting the sustainability journey at Heta Hyttan, Linda begun with dealing with a real energy thief – the melting pot. She shifted to electricity driven ovens allready in 2010 and after that she just continued on the same journey with other aspects of the company. Today she describes that there is a thought almost behind everything, from the reused packaging to the upcycled second hand furniture in the shop.

Read full blog in Swedish here.

Blogpost by
Amanda Mannervik
Strukturum, Sweden

Business Opportunities in Green Economy, summary of webinar 17th of March 2021

Business opportunities in green economy

With this webinar we wanted to give some inspiration on what business ideas in the green economy could look like – and no, you don’t need to be a white man to become a circular or green entrepreneur, due to some cancels we had this very homogene (but oh so inspiring) setup. Anyway, here’s a short summary of our keynote speakers!

Henning Gillberg, Repamera (SWE)
Henning started a company from a real need that he himself experienced. When you have worn out clothes at home that you don’t want to throw away – what to do? Why can’t you ”order a tailor” to your door in the same way like you can order food online in example. He acted on the thought immediately and did a survey online with the question ”have you got clothes that you would like to use, but are broken?”. In 20 hours, he had reached the 100 answers he was hoping for. Henning got the advice from a business developer to find a tailor and a customer – which he did. Since 2018, Repamera is an ecommerce that serves all Sweden with tailor services. Repameras bags are found in all H&M stores and they are also expanding to Denmark this summer.
Henning says that he started with only internet and his bike and that today it is really possible to start an ecommerce without deep technical knowledge. One must start and not plan too much!
The key is efficiency, that’s also the main driver for the customer. It must be worth bying the service instead of doing it yourself.

“You have replaced my mother as the favourite repairer of my clothes” said one of our other speakers Peter Nilsson, who has used the Repamera service a few times.

Juho Särkijärvi, Arctic Rental (FIN)
Arctic Rental started just eight months ago but allready have customers both from the Rovaniemi area (where the company is located) as well as tourists travelling from the rest of the country. The customers reserve the gear online, get a code and can then pick it up from a locker.
 Just like Henning, Juho also started the company out of a need he experienced himself. Juho has earlier been travelling the world to pursue his interest in outdoor sports like skiing and surfing. When travelling, you can’t always bring all the gear you need – and you may not even own the gear you would like to use anyway and that’s where renting gear comes in handy. It’s not something new to the world but Juho says that there still needs to be some kind of mindshift around ownership, and mentions that he thinks that Sweden is further ahead than Finland when it comes to adopting the sharing economy. For families with growing kids, it’s also beneficial to rent instead of buying many different sizes in a short period. “Get the prices down”, Juha states that this is the single most important thing to get a lot of customers.

Peter Nilsson, Smart Recycling (SWE)
The business of Smart Recycling is an AI-based tool for measuring when it’s time to empty a container. The solution is a sensor that is put in the container, giving information on the status.
The problem is dual. First you have the fact that the average recycle container is only half full when it’s emptied, which gives a lot of extra logistics and pollution. On the other hand there are 25% of containers that are overfilled before they get emptied. With this measuring tool the containers will be emptied just in time and only when needed to. The logistics are optimised so that the people emptying the containers know their route and which containers to empty on forehand.
Today the system is used on glass containers all over Sweden and Peter says they welcome all kinds of new collaborations and customers.

“If you do not measure – you do not know!” says Peter.

Jari Marjeta, Marjetas Oy (FIN)
Marjetas is a company working with municipal roadways, making them secure but for less money.
Jari believes that you have to personally go green in your values and actions – then the companies will follow. His own company have their own green system, with repair-services and more.
Jari describes the way they work with fixing broken roads in example, where they have a way of analysing exactly where the damage is and, in that way, repairing only what is needed and not more. Just like Smart Recycling, Marjetas is all about the data. They get the data, share it and optimise the work.
Working on municipal and state roadways, Jaris experience tells that many decision makers allready understand that doing things in an ecologically sensible way might also be the economically most sensible way.

Example from the Q&A session

There are a lot of demands and needs for circular businesses, but not enough entrepreneurs – why?

Henning: Laws, rules and taxation! Prices today need to be too high for the customer because of that. We need to decrease the taxation for circular services. Repair-services has a decreased taxation from 25% to 12% today but I believe we need to do more.

Juho: People are thinking too complicated. I you have a good idea, discuss and see if could be a business. To have a business is easier than people think at least in Finland.

Tailors from Northern Sweden – an opportunity for you!
Repamera said that they are willing to discuss some kind of franchise solution with local tailors who wants to be parts of the Repamera family – and at the same time reducing transports of the garments down to the Malmö office. Interesting! Let your local tailor know and contact Henning Gillberg at Repamera!

Blogpost by
Amanda Mannervik

Circular Economy – an introducing workshop

In april 2020 the Swedish GRUDE-team held a first (online) workshop about Circular Economy to introduce the topic. Here are some highlights that we would like to lift up and remember from the workshop.

What is Circular Economy?
Ann-Sofie Granzell, founder of the Swedish Circular Economy network CirEko (where Strukturum are members) gave us a thourough introduction to the topic. In short, Circular Economy is an economical system designed to keep resources in the loop, instead of todays linear economy where we buy-use-throw away most products. Something that was also new to some participants is the horrible fact that the average Swedish person consumes like we have 4.3 planet Earths!

Plenty of information and inspiration for you who wants to learn more can be found at Ellen MacArthur foundation, who works with educating in Circular Economy since several years. A good introduction too the topic that they have made is this short video:

Re-thinking progress by Ellen MacArthur foundation.

Circular Business Models
Depending on whom you ask they would call this five models different things but one example of the models could be described like this:
1. Prolonging the lifecycle (ie upcycling, repairing, maintenance, spare parts)
2. Product as a service (buying “light”, not a lamp or “the hole in the wall” instead of a screwdriver)
3. Renewables (to allready in production design for circularity, using renewable materials etc)
4. Optimize product performance, energy effiency etc
5. Resource efficiency (ie deliver a service that connects the user with owner or need with solution, sharing platforms etc)
Sharing Economy is also a part of Circular Economy, introducing a new (or really old?) view of ownership.

Breakout rooms
After the presentation we had discussions in breakout rooms on what we allready see as excisting circular economy related businesses and services where we live, but also what solutions we think are lacking/what we would like to see. We got some examples on allready excisting companies and NGO:s around in Norrbotten County but also a lot of wishes about a future with more circular services both from companies as well as public sector. Repairing services was frequently mentioned as something the participants would like to see more of in their local communities (both for bikes, clothing, snowmobiles etc). Circular business models was interesting to many, which we followed up with an education on the business development tool, Circular Business Model Canvas.

Sharing Economy, summary of Swedish workshop autumn 2020

Better late than never! Here comes a summary of the Swedish workshop on Sharing Economy that was carried out in the autumn 2020. Since the workshop was held we have gotten rumours about workplaces in Jokkmokk that practices sharing and clothes-swopping amongst the collegues and also the local group for the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) informed in their newsletter that they gladly help out if you are interested to learn more about sharing and how to get started at your workplace or in your neighbourhood in example.

Sharing Economy is part of the Green – and Circular Economy and there are many ways to organize the sharing. We took help from five experienced keynotes to give us some ideas on what it could look like. Philip Näslund from Sharing City Umeå told us what the Municipality of Umeå is doing to try out and pave way for different kind of sharing initiatives. Marcel Berkelder is one of the cofounders of “Bråns utrustningsfond” which is a sharing platform that the inhabitants in the village of Brån in Vännäs Municipality (Västerbotten County) has created together and that has lived for many years now. Ola Degerfors, founder of the commercial sharing platform Hygglo gave us some impressive numbers on how many idle machines there are around the households in Sweden and why it’s so important to rent and share instead of buying something new.
Peter Parnes, co-founder of the creative meeting space and NGO Makerspace Luleå told us how its possible to create a Makerspace even on smaller location and was very transparent on their financing model. Besides sharing tools and knowledge Peter described that one of the main reasons they exist is to make the world more equal – young girls should also have the opportunities to get interested about programming, building and creating. Sofia Bystedt, the creative leader at Re:tuna galleria told us the impressing story about how it was possible to launch the worlds first recycling mall. The municipal inhabitants donate their unwanted belongings to the sortings station and then all the products get new life by redesign, upcycling or reuse in one of the many shops that are run by independent entrepreneurs in the mall.

Sharing Economy in the rural north
Yes, some of the obstacles are obvious, like that it’s harder to reach a critical mass for a certain type of service or that it’s harder to find exactly that thing you want within reach in your village. BUT, on the other hand people living in rural areas are generally historically more used to help each other out and therefore the mental obstacles to overcome could maybe be smaller. One thing that also speaks against Sharing Economy in rural areas in the north is that we (according to Philip at Umeå Municipality) are so used to be able to take care of ourselves and that we therefore need some kind of cultural change in this behaviour.
One trend watch that was given was that the sharing platform AirBnb has increased their presence in rural areas during the pandemia.

After listening to the keynotes we had a discussion amongst the participants, following a set of questions. One thing that they highlighted as an obstacle is that we in the Nordic countries generally are so wealthy and therefore our incentives on sharing are quite small. Also that the law rather supports consumption than sharing today – but change is on its way regarding that!

Evaluation of the workshop
The participants rated 4.3 on a 1-5 scale on if their knowledge on Sharing Economy has increased during the workshop. The question if they got inspired to share more also got a 4.3 on the 1-5 scale.

Shared mobility services also seems to be something of interest here – we will keep that in mind for future workshops and seminars!

LECO – Local Energy Communities and a pilot in Vuollerim, Jokkmokk

Today, the 11th of November 2020, the EU-project LECO – Local Energy Communities had their final conference. Silva Herrmann, Project Manager at Jokkmokk Municipality presented the LECO toolkit and some examples of useful tools open for everyone to use, including templates for strategic plans and business plans. All the project material can be found here until five years after the project. Use it!

One of the pilots that was made in the project took place in the village of Vuollerim in Jokkmokk Municipality in Sweden. A result from that is that the community members in Vuollerim are discussing ways forward to create a solar park together in the community as well as a joint procurement of air-to-air heatpumps. See the pilot video below.

Well done LECO and hopefully your project knowledge finds its way out there to many more!