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Results: CircVol – Utilisation of side streams and masses of soil in cities

CircVol developed operating models in Turku, Helsinki, Tampere and Oulu for the utilisation of large-volume industrial side streams and masses of soil generated from infrastructure construction.

CircVol put together a national ecosystem of circular economy operators and held more than 60 training modules and other events for them. With companies, CircVol organised five pilot projects on the utilisation of recycled materials in infrastructure construction, among other things. A total of 70 companies were involved in the CircVol project’s activities.

Results of the CircVol project

  • In Oulu, CircVol developed the Välimaa circular economy area together with companies, higher education institutions and the authorities. The following experiments were carried out with companies:
    • the suitability of side streams for water protection structures
    • a non-food cultivation experiment (diverse growth platforms)
    • hyperspectral imaging in identifying masses of soil and contaminants (identifying contaminated soil).
  • CircVol also developed the brand of the Välimaa circular economy area, among other things. The project’s network activities supported the preparation of the City of Oulu’s circular economy roadmap.

  • In Tampere, CircVol set out to solve the city’s zero fibre challenge. There is an accumulation of approximately 1.5 million cubic metres of zero fibre at the bottom of Lake Näsijärvi in front of the Hiedanranta district, generated by the paper and pulp industry. This material is classified as waste, but it may also be possible to utilise it as a resource in biorefineries that produce energy or chemicals, for example. In order to solve the zero fibre challenge, CircVol produced additional information with the following measures:
    •  It mapped out and interviewed companies that have the technology and expertise to solve the zero fibre challenge.
    • It developed assessment criteria for assessing zero fibre technologies
    • It developed a multi-objective assessment method to support the decision-making concerning zero fibre.
  • In Turku, CircVol carried out preliminary testing on clay in a laboratory in order to find a purpose of use for leftover clay generated from construction. The project carried out two experiments on the use of recycled materials with companies in Turku:
    • stabilisation of dredged material (as field testing)
    • utilisation of clay soil (as laboratory testing).
  • The results of the field testing were presented to the City of Turku, and the intention is to take advantage of the lessons learned in future plans for Lauttaranta in Turku. Testing related to the utilisation of clay soil will be continued with field tests in the Topinpuisto circular economy area, under the supervision of Lounais-Suomen Jätehuolto.
  • A survey was also carried out in Turku on the utilisation of dredged material elsewhere in Europe.
Three men walking on dredged soil, wearing rubber boots, carrying buckets.
A field test comprising nine test squares was carried out in the dredged material pilot. In this pilot, companies tested the suitability of their recycled binders for stabilising dredged material. The photo shows representatives of Åbo Akademi University, Turku University of Applied Sciences and Geological Survey of Finland GTK taking samples from the test squares.
  • In Helsinki, CircVol carried out two extensive expert surveys:
    • a regional biomass survey with Ramboll
    • a survey to identify the business ecosystem related to biological streams and determine the interest of companies in relocating to Helsinki.
  • For the City of Helsinki, CircVol also developed an operating model for facilitating cooperation with companies as well as a toolkit for taking circular economy into account in urban planning. The project’s results have been utilised in the preparation of economic development policy objectives for land use in Helsinki, and the results are also visible in the objectives and measures of the City of Helsinki’s circular and sharing economy roadmap.
  • Additionally, CircVol supported the national development of circular economy with measures including the following:
    • It mapped out the national network of circular economy operators.
    • It identified a need for a 3C circular economy cluster for construction materials (the Circular Materials and Solutions for Construction Cluster). It invited 20 companies to the cluster and held online events for them.
    • It promoted the adoption of biogas by conducting a survey on the promotion of the use of biomethane in transport and for energy and by preparing the “Biokaasua!” (Biogas!) manual for companies, among other measures.
    • It gathered data about the use of large-volume streams in accordance with circular economy principles for the purpose of drafting a decree and gathered user experiences of the MARA decree (Government Decree on the Recovery of Certain Wastes in Earth Construction). The feedback given by the CircVol network on the MASA decree (Government Decree on the Utilisation of Waste Soil in Earth Construction) affected the decree’s further drafting; a new legislative solution is currently being drafted. The CircVol project also carried out two surveys that increase knowledge on the reuse of masses of soil: “Kaivettujen maa-ainesten tutkimusmenetelmiä: Case Turun täyttömaiden lyijypitoisuus” (Methods of Studying Excavated Soil: Lead Content in Fill Dirt in Case Turku) and “Kaivettujen maiden hyötykäytön edistäminen – CircVol-projektin Turun tapauskohteet Heikkilä ja Lauttaranta” (Promotion of the Utilisation of Excavated Soil – the Heikkilä and Lauttaranta Sites of Case Turku in the CircVol Project).
    • It gathered information on the reuse of acid sulphate soils in the Välimaa circular economy area in Oulu and Matalahti in Naantali. The results were compiled in a work report that also highlighted a few first-phase risk management measures for minimising the harmful environmental impacts of acid sulphate soils.
    • It identified the aggregate supply areas of the future in Southwest Finland. A report called “Kiviaineshuollon tukialueet Varsinais-Suomessa” (Aggregate supply areas in Southwest Finland) was published about the survey. The survey was utilised in the drafting of the phased regional land use plan for the natural values and resources of Southwest Finland.
A group portrait, men and women of different ages standing on stairs, photo shot from below.
11 project partners were involved in CircVol. Pictured in the photo is the project team.

More about next steps

  • The 3C cluster project received funding from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland and was launched in early 2021.
  • The Laboratory of Molecular Science and Engineering of Åbo Akademi University and the City of Turku launched a project on the use of the stabilisation of masses of clay and dredged material in infrastructure construction projects of the City of Turku. The project is funded by the Turku Urban Research Programme 2019–2023. The cooperation between the laboratory and the City started in the CircVol project. The laboratory is also studying the utilisation of leftover clay in Espoo in the Six City Strategy project Carbon Neutral and Resource Wise Industrial Areas (HNRY). This cooperation also started in CircVol.
  • The cooperation that started between Nordkalk and the Construction Laboratory of Turku University of Applied Sciences in the CircVol project will continue.
  • GTK will continue to develop hyperspectral imaging in the analysis of contaminated soil.

The objective of the CircVol project was to promote the reuse of large-volume side streams and masses of soil and put together a national network of operators from companies in the industry, higher education institutions and public sector operators. The objective of the experiments carried out with companies was to gain more experience in the utilisation of recycled materials in infrastructure construction, thereby contributing to the spread of infrastructure construction complying with the principles of circular economy in cities. During the project, operators were also brought together to review the decrees regulating the industry (MARA, and MASA, which was being prepared). Turku Science Park coordinated the project, and the other participants included Forum Virium Helsinki, the Geological Survey of Finland GTK, the City of Helsinki, Oulu University of Applied Sciences, the City of Oulu, the Finnish Environment Institute SYKE, Tampere University, Turku University of Applied Sciences, the Regional Council of Southwest Finland and Åbo Akademi University. The project ran from 1 August 2018 to 31 December 2020 and had a total budget of approximately EUR 2.6 million.

Further information

Reeta Huhtinen
Project Manager
Turku Science Park
tel. +358 (0)40 083 2488