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

Circular Business Innovations from the Northern Arctic Areas

Greennovation Camp flyer

Summary of Greennovation Camp Keynote Speakers

The third virtual Greennovation Camp in the Interreg Nord-project GRUDE was held on Tuesday 9 Feb 2021. The focus of the event was on the utilization of sidestreams in rural Arctic areas and the day was kicked off by three keynote speakers from all of the three countries collaborating in the GRUDE project: Norway, Sweden and Finland.

This blog text will sum up the most interesting points in the keynote presentations. In case you would like to dig deeper into circular business models or the role of public sector in facilitating circular economy, check out the following links to our other blog posts about the Greennovation Camp group discussions where the participants presented several inspiring cases about these topics!

Group discussion 1: Public Sector Facilitating Circular Economy
Group discussion 2: Circular Business Models

Wiebke Reim: Circular Business Models and the Business Ecosystem – The Valorization of Food Waste

Wiebke Reim from Luleå University of Technology introduced us the Symbioma project. The objective of the project is to establish a circular economy related Technology Innovation Platform (TIP) which would boost eco-innovation in the Northern Arctic area by identifying new products from sidestreams, adopting new business models and forming resource efficient value chains.

In creating a more sustainable, circular economy Wiebke emphasized the importance of rethinking the values that businesses are based on. She also presented some great examples of circular business models, one of them being a piloting carried out in cooperation with Botten Vikens brewery.

In this experiment spent grain was used for cultivation of mealworms for chicken farms. In addition to reducing waste, the mealworms use up the water, naturally in the spent grain, so it can be further utilized as an odourless fertilizer. Furthermore, using mealworms as chicken food, offers a locally produced, sustainable option for soya.

According to Wiebke the implementation of circular business models requires:

  1. Understanding the need for transformation and rethinking the company’s core values
  2. Identifying current resource streams and potential for change
  3. Finding suitable partners and technology in the business ecosystem
  4. Understanding that circularity can look very different and everyone can contribute.

Reetta Nivala: Growth by Recycling

Reeta Nivala works as a Business Development Manager in the company Honkajoki Oy which is Finland’s leading processor of animal by-products. The goal of Honkajoki is to reduce, reuse and recycle waste produced by slaughterhouses and meat-cutting plants. At Honkajoki the waste is processed into organic raw materials that can be used for animal and fish feed, pet food, fertilizer, cosmetics industries, chemicals, as well as, fuel and biodiesel.

Reeta explained that only approx. 34 % of a cow is consumed as a part of the human diet in the Western countries whereas the rest of the animal (consisting of fat, bones, inner organs, intestinal content, etc.) is typically considered only as waste.

In addition to reducing waste and enhancing circular economy, the utilization of animal by-products has many other benefits. Firstly, the materials processed at Honkajoki are easily traceable across the industry which makes them safe to use. Secondly, the thorough utilization of by-products effectively prevents diseases from spreading, and finally, adds value to the meat production value chain.

Jan Gabor: World Class Green Industrial Park

Jan Gabor works with property development in Mo Industrial Park, which is the largest energy recycling project that the Norwegian Research Council has ever issued. There are 114 companies located in the Industrial Park and their industry sectors vary from metal and material as the largest sector to oil, gas and energy sector, food and chemical sector, as well as, industry clusters.

The main objectives of the project are:

  1. to reduce specific energy use by 20-30% and
  2. to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10%

Jan also presented several specific initiatives which are a part of the Industrial Park project. These initiatives aim to model and optimize integrated energy systems in industrial parks. For example, in a project called CO2 HUB Nordland, Mo industrial park has worked with several large Norwegian companies from different sectors and helped them capture their CO2 off-gas. After capturing the CO2,it is either permanently stored in old oil deposits in the seabed in the Northern Sea or used in production of new products.

There is also a plan to establish an electrolysis production plant in Mo industrial park where hydrogen and CO2 could be combined as methanol which works as a carbon-neutral, synthetic option for gasoline. According to Jan, transitioning to use methanol or other types of e-fuels would mean up to 94 % reduction in CO2 emissions.

If you’re interested in circular economy and would like to learn more, please join us in the next Greennovation Camp on 11 May 2021. Our theme for next time will be Sustainable Tourism.

We’ll be posting more info in our Facebook page and local Facebook group: FB Group Norway

Hoping to see you in May! 😊

Blogpost by:
Henna Kukkonen,
Lapland University of Applied Sciences

From Linear to Circular – Shifting your Business Model

The third Virtual Greennovation Camp in the Interreg Nord-project GRUDE was held Tuesday Feb 9th, focusing on the utilization of side streams in rural Arctic areas. In one of the group sessions after lunch, where the overall theme was Circular Business Models, several interesting, current issues and cases were addressed by the participants. Read more about it here.

One of the topics raised was the challenge of getting small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) – with budgets and cost control, shielding their core business – involved. Thus, by-products and side streams become «out of sight, out of mind» as said by one of the participants.

In recent years, and particularly after the implementation of the UN sustainability goals in 2015, firms have increased the awareness of their own contributions towards achieving the sustainability goals. However, there are few firms that actually work with carbon accounting, sustainability strategies and life cycle analysis. If we are to achieve the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to well below two degrees, all parts of the business community must contribute.

Many leaders have good intentions, but they lack knowledge and capacity for implementation. How can we get SMB to prioritize side streams in their business strategy? What is needed to make the shift from linear to circular business models? As discussed at the event, this is not the issue of one sector, all sectors that have the knowledge and experience must help to promote the shift and close the knowledge gap in order to bring us closer to the circular economy!

Blogpost by:

Grethe Lilleng, SINTEF (No)

Circular Business Models – Summary from the Group Session

The third Virtual Greennovation Camp in the Interreg Nord-project GRUDE was held Tuesday Feb 9th, focusing on the utilization of side streams in rural Arctic areas. In one of the group sessions after lunch, where the overall theme was Circular Business Models, several interesting, current issues and cases were addressed by the participants. 

Louise Mattson, Älvsbyn Municipality (Sweden)used to work for the research institute RISE in Luleå but now works at Älvsbyn Municipality in an EU-funded project called Arctic DC. The project focuses on industrial symbiosis, using the waste heat (up to 40 %!) from data centers. Northern Sweden’s cold conditions are a perfect fit for data centers. In the project at RISE Louise was part of installing a bunker that draw the waste heat to driving up mealworms in the bunker. The mealworms themselves could be used in example for nutrition to chicken whilst their waste has proved to be a good fertilizer for tomatoes. It is possible to visit the container and have a look! It was hard to find entrepreneurs to take over now that the project funding is ending but Louise says she still have some ideas and she has also seen examples here in Norrbotten on startups working with similar ideas. She also gave us a tip that a data center in Boden is installing a greenhouse that will use the waste heat from the center. 

Wisdom Kanda, Linköping University (Sweden), presented his newly started 4-year FORMAS-project about Business Ecosystems and Start-ups developing Circular Business Models. The project is based on the idea that there is a knowledge gap between the new circular businesses and the business support systems that needs to be bridged. Wisdom got the question from a participant – “What does a company need to able to call itself circular?”, to which he responded that that is an important question and something he will keep in mind for the project. If you are a company with a circular business model or part of the business support system and eager to learn more – get in touch! 

Inger Pedersen, North Sweden Energy Agency/Sustainable Business Bridge (Sweden), carries out a variety of projects focused on sustainability. One new project in the portfolio is Sustainable Business Bridge where they will match companies with underutilized side streams with entrepreneurs who wants to make business out of it. Does your company struggle with becoming more resource efficient? Inger and her team help companies present their “problem” and find potential suppliers who can find solutions, or researchers that can help. Read more here.   

Maja Blomquist, SMICE/SNIUS and the Circular Business Model Canvas (Sweden), emphasized how important it is with the border crossing cooperation. In the recently finished SMICE-project they had Norway and Trøndelag as partners and Maja stated that it was absolutely important to speed up the process, see new trends and deepen the knowledge. She also stated that TRUST is an important factor when introducing something “new”. In SMICE they focused a lot on the innovation support system but also on changes at a policy- and regional level, in example working with the regional development strategy. One concrete result from the project is that they helped the Swedish Agency for Economical and Regional Growth (Tillväxtverket) to develop a Circular Business Model Canvas, a circular business modeling tool. Download the circular business model canvas for free here.   

It is evident that Circular Business Modeling is not the issue of one sector, all sectors that have the knowledge and experience must help to promote the shift and close the knowledge gap – no matter if you are an entrepreneur, business developer or researcher!

Blogpost by:
Amanda Mannervik, Strukturum (Se)
Grethe Lilleng, SINTEF (No)

Sustainable Local Communities

Virtual workshop 2020-11-11

Norway has completed its first workshop. The objective of this workshop was exchange of experience and discussion about whether, and possibly how work with sustainability can help to create attractive local communities where people want to live». Including issues such as «what does it take to create willingness to live and attractiveness in local communities?», and «what are the biggest challenges to get people to settle down in the rural districts?».

Some of the biggest and most central issues when recruiting young people to the districts are the lack of leisure facilities, transport facilities and jobs. These factors are challenges, at the same time as they are essential to create the attractiveness and willingness to live in the districts. This is paradoxical, and the question: «What came first – the chicken or the egg? » is a highly relevant question within this issue. Should the inhabitants initiate measures to attract newcomers, and hope for them to stay there and maintain these measures? Or should newcomers move from the urban cities to the districts, without preconditions about neither work or school- and kindergarten offers, just to hope for it to develop gradually?

Among the participants at the workshop there was a general understanding of the importance of access to relevant jobs to attract people from the big cities. One problem is that positions often are not advertised on the open market, but rather through contacts and networks. Newcomers, without acquaintances in the region, may find it challenging to know who to get in contact with. Active municipalities that follow up the business community and initiate companies to recruit new employees to the region, is essential.

How can work with sustainability help create attractive local communities where people want to live? The work on sustainability and the transition to a circular economy can help create housing in the districts by helping to create new jobs. Young, educated employees see sustainable workplaces as highly attractive and many apply to companies that operate responsibly and focus on sustainability. Sustainability thus has a marketing value for companies and the whole community – a factor that can attract people to the districts. If attractive jobs are created, with sustainability in focus, this can contribute to graduates wanting to move to the district. A circular economy, which makes better use of resources, can lead to more innovative business models and new jobs.

This workshop has provided many suggestions that may be interesting to follow up further, including: (1) Can the digitalisation boom we have seen during the pandemic make it easier for people to move to the district? (2) What types of marketing tools can be used to market the region as well as attract more people than today? (3) Can more focus on cooperation and networking – across sectors and disciplines – attract people to the districts? We look forward to more discussions about sustainability and attractiveness in the future.

Article by:
Frida Hansen, UiT (NO)
Grethe Lilleng, SINTEF Nord (NO)
Kine Jakobsen, SINTEF Nord (NO)

Greennovation Camp 09/09/2020 – Group 1

Gruppearbeidet i Virtual Greennovatin Camp hadde mange gode diskusjoner basert på 4 ulike megatrend kort: 1) longer life expectancy and an ageing population 2) decreasing biodiversity 3) AI applications permeate society and 4) belittling VS activism.

I forste del av gruppearbeidet presenterte deltagerne seg selv og fortalte litt om deres arbeid. Megatrend-kortene ble deretter adressert, og gruppen begynte å visualisere fremtiden basert på disse kortene. Ulike aspekter ble diskutert, som hvilke konsekvenser visjonene ville få for bedrifter og kommuner, og hvordan ulike interessenter ble påvirket av disse fremtidsvisjonene. Fokuset ble spesielt på rurale områder, og hvor vanskelig det kan bli å overvinne noen fremtidige utfordringer i slike områder.

Etter det første gruppearbeidet ble to grupper kombinert for å danne en felles visjon som resulterte i en plakat med fokus på landlige områder og hvordan forskjellige grønne innovasjonsaspekter som fornybar energi, digitalisering, kunstig intelligens, småskala landbruk og sirkulær økonomi vil påvirke fremtiden og skape muligheter for å bo i rurale områder.

Article by Group 1 facilitators:
Hanne W. Brendelokken, Sintef Nord, Norway
Mervi Angeria, Lapland UAS, Finland