The overarching goal of the Finnish food waste policy-mix is to reduce the amount of food waste produced as a whole. Priority is given to the management of resources. Behavioural changes are central to reducing the environmental, social and economic consequences arising from unnecessary food waste and are therefore the main focus of campaigns, citizens’ initiatives and education programs in schools.

Finland's waste policy aims at promoting the sustainable use of natural resources to ensure that waste does not harm human health or the environment. Waste management is based on a certain order of priorities meaning that it may be placed in landfills only if its recovery is not technically or financially feasible. Finnish waste legislation is largely based on EU legislation, but in some cases includes stricter standards and limits than those applied in the EU as a whole.

While Finland has no specific national strategy on food waste, it has two general plans. The first national plan, “Towards a recycling society – The National Waste Plan for 2016” aims at achieving a decline in the amount of municipal waste by 2016. The other, “More From Less - wisely 2012, falls within the scope of Finland's national programme to promote sustainable consumption and production, which aims at reducing the environmental impacts and greenhouse gas emissions of the domestic and public sector.

Finnish municipalities are responsible for the collection and treatment of the generated municipal waste, including bio-waste from households. In metropolitan areas, residential properties with 10 or more housing units and other properties that generate over 50 kg of bio-waste per week carry out its separate collection. However, bio-wate collection is voluntary for smaller properties. Different rules apply to urban and rural areas.

Evira Finnish Food Safety Authority launched guidelines for operators who provide and convey food aid as well as for municipal food control authorities which supervise the related activities. The purpose of the aforementioned guidelines is to clarify food donation-related procedures and liability concerns.

From a food donation point of view, products marked with a “best before” date, which are suitable for human consumption, can be sold or donated even after the date is exceeded. In this instance, a food donor is responsible for its product quality if donated after the best before date. The Food Act (23/2006, including amendments up to 352/2011) is a type of food codex that applies to food and the conditions in which it is handled. It is furthermore applicable to food business operators and to food verification at all stages in the production, processing and distribution.

In terms of voluntary agreements, an interesting initiative called “The Leftover lunch was promoted in 2014 by Sitra The Finnish Innovation Fund in Jyväskylä. After school lunch time canteens open the doors for neighbourhood people to sell leftover lunch food at a bargain price of 1,5 €. The leftover lunch has been mentioned for people who would not otherwise eat two warm meals per day.

Finland is very active in terms of communication campaigns and bottom up activities on food waste: Saa syödä! License to Eat campaign implies sharing surplus food between inhabitants: it is an experimental pilot project for household company to decrease food waste by sharing surplus food items. The Food Waste Week was launched in September 2014. The Waste Food Dinner is an initiative for rise awareness about food consumption and food waste. It consists in organizing party for friends made of food otherwise wasted.

Figure 1. Finland’s policy mix at December 2014


It is important to underline that food labeling is given utmost attention in Finland. Products labelled with “use by date” markings may not be sold or donated to customers after the date mark has been exceeded. Products marked with a “best before” date, which are suitable for human consumption, can be sold or donated even after the date is exceeded. The food donor is responsible for product quality, when the product is donated after the “best before” date has been exceeded.

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Ministry of Environment (2013), Towards a recycling society – The National Waste Plan for 2016
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Ministry of Environment (2012), National plan More From Less - wisely 2012, Finland's national programme to promote sustainable consumption and production
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Waste legislation/ Waste Tax Act (1126/2010)
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Evira 2013 Food aid guidance
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Environmental Protection Act (86/2000, 527/2014)
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Waste Act (646/2011)
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Decree on landfill 331/2013
Government Decree under Waste act (646/2011) and (86/2000)
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Waste Decree (179/2012) for industry, services, municipalities
Government Decree On Waste under the Waste Act (646/2011)
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Food Act  (23/2006, amendments up to 352/2011 included)
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Decree of the Ministry of the Agriculture and Forestry (1193/2011) and Evira Instructions (16088/5 -19.1.2013)
Available here


Sitra (Fund operating directly under the Finnish Parliament), 2014, Leftover lunch.
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Silvennoinen K., Pinolehto M., Korhonen O., Riipi I., Katajajuuri J. M, (2013), Reduction of consumer food waste as a part of food chain responsibility (Kuru, Kauppakassista kaatopaikalle), MTT Agrifood Research Finland.
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Silvennoinen K. & Korhonen O. (2013), Food waste volume and composition in Helsinki region households, in: Perspectives on managing life cycles. Proceedings of the 6th international conference on life cycle management, 969-972.
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Hartikainen H., Timonen K., Jokinen S., Korhonen V., Katajajuuri J-M., Silvennoinen K., (2013), Ecopaf - The influence of food packaging sizes on household food waste and environmental impacts (Ruokahävikki ja pakkausvalinnat kotitalouksissa – Kuluttajan matkassa kaupasta kotiin: ECOPAF -hankkeen loppuraportti), MTT Raportti 106: 42 P. (in Finnish).
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Toukola V., Sinisalo S., Sormunen K., Pulkkinen S. (2011),  Properties of biowaste in Helsinki Metropolitan Area, HSY 2011. (in Finnish).
Available here

Pulkkinen S., Sinisalo S. (2012), Quality and quantity of household mixed solid waste in the Helsinki area 2012. HSY 2012. (in Finnish).
Available here


Saa syödä! License to Eat (in Finnish)
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Food waste week and event Saa syödä! 2014 (7.-14.9.2014), (in Finnish)
Kuluttajaliitto, Motiva, MMM
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HSY campaign  - It's smart with less waste (Fiksu vähentää jätettä), (in Finnish)
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English webpage:

Waste Food Dinner
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FutupackEKO2010 - Environmental effects of packing alternatives of food products
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Preschool education (in Finnish)
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"ÄLÄ JÄTÄ" ("Don't waste"), (in Finnish)
Available here

All links cited in the references have been accessed for the last time on October 27, 2015.



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