The most interesting companies in the circular economy in Finland

Sitra is a future-oriented organization working toward the strong vision of Finland as a successful pioneer of sustainable well-being. Circular economy—an economy that decouples economic growth from the use of natural resources—is one of Sitra’s multiyear focus areas. Active stakeholder communication is an important part of Sitra’s work.

The Most Interesting Companies in the Circular Economy” is a list of nearly a hundred case studies compiled by Sitra to showcase Finland’s most inspiring examples of the circular economy. Through the list, Sitra wants to help Finnish companies be among the first in the world to switch to a circular economy. Sitra is using the list as a way to challenge Finnish companies to meet the changing needs of the world. Each case study in the list briefly describes a societal and/or environmental problem, a solution, the revenue model and benefits for the company, and the benefits for the customer and/or the end user.

The examples on the list are grouped according to different circular economy business models:

  • Renewability (sustainable inputs)
  • Product-life extension
  • Product as a service
  • Sharing platform
  • Resource efficiency and recycling

The first version of the list in October 2016 included 19 Finnish companies, and the first update in May 2017 increased that number to 54. The initial aim was to inspire Finnish businesses so that the list features 100 companies by the end of 2017. The second update increased the number to 97 business examples.

The list is published at Sitra’s website and is the 7th most visited page. Prior to publications, efforts have been made for targeted press coverage in mainstream business media to stimulate societal and business conversations. As a result, the list has gained a lot of attention in Finland. It has been used to provide companies with perspectives on how business in the circular economy could be productive and profitable. New types of operating methods are needed in order to ensure that materials and value stay in circulation for as long as possible with minimal waste.

Currently, we are revising the concept and will publish an updated list by March 2019. We collect observations on interesting circular economy companies and operating models. This work will continue until autumn 2019.

The circular economy is not yet a well-known concept in the United States. However, it is the direction in which leaders should rapidly take the economy and businesses toward in order to enable future-proof sustainable growth. California, with its entrepreneurial spirit and environmental culture, would be a great place to explore circular economy models further. If new solutions, business models, and economic opportunities could be showcased there, that could really inspire the rest of the country to embrace the circular economy mindset.

Project Director, Sitra
Circular Economy Specialist, Sitra