Public Sector Facilitating Circular Economy

Summary of Group Discussion 1

In the group session of the 3rd Greennovation camp we had an opportunity to hear two exiting case studies that were linked to circular economy in public sector.

Inga Hermann:
Inga Hermann from Luleå University of Technology presented a case about black water and urine diversion systems for nutrient recovery from wastewater. System aims for more efficient recovery and reuse of valuable nutrients. Nowadays, volumes of water that must be treated are massive, as feces and urine are mixed with large amount of clean water. Simultaneously, nutrients from wastewater sludges are underutilized in food or feed production.

Rethinking the black water treatment, for example utilizing source separation and small-scale treatment systems, promotes the transition toward circular economy. Reusing of nutrients from household wastewaters would cover majority of the need for food production for corresponding population. In addition, CO2-emissions per ton of nutrient is less that in chemical fertilizers, and processing can also produce energy e.g. as a form of biogas.

Sanna Tyni:
Sanna Tyni’s case presentation was about a development project called LTKT 2.0 which aims for reinforcement of circular economy activities in Lapland. Circular economy is acknowledged to be important concept also for Lapland and project continues the work for developing the knowledge and networks further, both in public and private sector. One output of the project is to design a circular economy roadmap for Lapland.

After the case presentations we focused on a question of how public sector could act as an enabler for circular economy.

One important action is raising the awareness: communities haven’t necessarily considered how to handle and enhance the nutrient recycling. At least in the wastewater treatment sector also guidance and financial support from the government was recommended, as well as, demands for nutrient recovery, not only nutrient removal.

Communities should also utilize more actively participatory methods i.e. involve citizens to the decision making, as in the example of Ii municipality in the previous Greennovation Camp. It was reminded that municipalities are different to each other and everyone has to work on finding the best suitable methods for themselves, even though possibilities of solid business models for the municipalities were also under discussion. Public sector can act as an enabler for many everyday things. Making it possible to use local food products and local resources, increases the livelihood and vitality in the area.

Blog post by:
Satu Ervasti
The Natural Resources Instute