In 2021, our total amount of waste collected through our own waste management was 7,840 tons, an increase of 350 tons or 4.7% on the previous year.

The volume of waste generated reflected the 3.7% growth in our operations on 2020.    

The volume of community waste we generated increased by 39 tons, with particular increases in the volumes of mixed waste, paperboard and cardboard, and plastic. By contrast, the volumes of biowaste and wastepaper decreased significantly.

Mixed waste reduction goal not attained

We aimed to reduce the volume of mixed waste to less than 1.13 kg per patient visit, and to this end we organized a campaign and boosted plastic recycling. The volume of mixed waste in 2021 was 1.18 kg per patient visit. Several potential causes for this have been pointed to. One cause may be that our number of patient visits increased by 3%. The total volume of mixed waste increased by 135 tons, or 4.1%, on the previous year.

In biowaste, we achieved a reduction of 120 tons or nearly 10% on the previous year. This was to a significant extent due to the collection system at Meilahti that extracts water from biowaste; the year under review was the first full year of operation for the system. Our campaign to reduce food waste also had an impact on the volume of biowaste.

The volume of wastepaper decreased by 30 tons on the previous year. The volume of paper has been steadily decreasing in recent years, at a rate of about 20% per year, while the volume of confidential paper has decreased somewhat more slowly. There was a reduction of 14 tons in confidential paper and sticker waste. In 2021, for the first time ever, the volume of collected confidential paper was larger than the volume of collected wastepaper. 

More than 40% of community waste recovered

Out of the total volume of waste produced, community waste (mixed waste and separately collected recyclable waste) accounted for about 77%; 5.5% was waste specific to health care, 5.7% was hazardous waste and 11.6% was waste deriving from construction and property management.

The percentage of community waste sorted and recovered was 42.1%. This was 2.1% less than in 2020, because the volume of recoverable waste decreased by almost as much as the volume of mixed waste increased. Recoverable waste includes biowaste, recycled paperboard, cardboard, confidential paper and stickers, wastepaper, metal, plastic and glass. 

One factor in the increase of the overall volume of waste was that our operations grew; the volume of typical health care waste returned to pre-pandemic (2019) levels. This was particularly the case with health care special waste, with pharmaceutical waste and, in packaging materials, with paperboard and cardboard. 

Waste from property management increased by 210 tons (31%). This growth is explained by the low baseline in 2020; another way to describe this is that here, too, we returned to pre-pandemic levels.

Record broken again in collecting plastic

In 2021, we enhanced plastic collection by expanding separate collection for different types of plastic. As a result, we were able to collect and sort more than 80 tons of plastic for recovery. This represented an increase of nearly 19% on 2020. The volume of plastic collected has increased year on year.  

The Oral and Dental Center, which began operations at Meilahti in 2021, became a new location for plastic collection. Significant growth was recorded at Porvoo Hospital, the Surgical Hospital, the Logistics Center and the Meilahti hospital campus. Our units at Malmi Hospital also considerably increased the volume of plastic collected. 

Our units can monitor plastic collection at the ward level using our waste monitoring and invoicing system HUSKEY.

Waste management costs increased

In 2021, waste management costs totaled EUR 8.3 million, an increase of about 5% on the previous year. Our costs per patient visit increased by about 1.8% on the previous year. The average cost per kg of waste is EUR 1.06. 

Waste management costs include: waste management fees paid to waste collectors for properties managed by HUS; waste transport costs; HUS Logistics personnel costs for waste transport within hospital buildings; and HUS Asvia personnel costs for waste management duties.

Overall costs of HUS waste management in EUR, 2016–2021

2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Total waste management costs 6,665,000 6,860,000 7,601,500 7,841,000 7,948,500 8,338,000
HUS Support Services / property management working hours in waste management 2,609,000 2,635,000 2,684,000 2,999,000 2,999,000 2,999,000
HUS Logistics / in-house waste management 1,384,000 1,384,000 1,546,000 1,530,000 1,559,000 1,590,000
HUS Real Estate Ltd / provision of waste management 1,079,000 1,161,000 1,224,000 1,184,000 1,200,000 1,586,000
Fortum Waste Solutions (formerly Ekokem) / waste and containers 1,011,000 983,000 1,280,500 1,262,000 1,287,000 1,368,000
Bin lines and trash bags, containers for sharps 567,000 682,000 827,000 846,000 897,000 795,000
Equipment for internal collection and in-house logistics 15,000 15,000 40,000 20,000 6,500 0
Waste management costs, EUR per patient visit 2.66 2.59 2.78 2.67 2.82 2.87