Tampere: from linear to circular bio-economy

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Main actors

City Government, Private Sector, Public Utility, Research Institutes / Universities

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Project area

Neighborhood or district

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Ongoing since 2013/01

In the city of Tampere’s ECO3 business park, bio-economy and circular investments are translated into practical activities.

The Tampere region has created a circular innovation ecosystem to develop, pilot and demonstrate solutions to address current and future resource challenges. Its ECO3 business park supports multi-disciplinary cooperation to find new ways to turn waste into raw materials and ideas into products and exports and reduce waste management costs. The ecosystem exceeds traditional sector boundaries, and operates in an environment where one person’s waste is another’s commodity. ECO3 has been developed by partnering with both domestic and foreign companies, as well as universities.

Originally published by EUROCITIES, the network of 130 European cities:

Sustainable Development Goals

Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns


This project was shortlisted for the 'EUROCITIES Awards' in 2017 in the following category: Cooperation.

Tampere, Finland

Size and population development
223.238 (as of 2015). Third largest city in Finland and most populous scandinavian inland city

Main functions
second-largest urban area and third most-populous individual municipality in the country

Main industries / business
mechanical engineering and automation; information and communication technologies; health and biotechnology; paper industry

Political structure
Mayor-council governement system

The Tampere region had responded to the national government of Finland’s commitment to move away from a linear model of resource consumption by setting an ambitious goal for municipal waste management. With the separation of waste legislated in national law, the city governments of Tampere and Nokia in partnership with Tampere Regional Solid Waste Management aimed to develop the management of the whole value chain, focusing on the recovery state and costs to consumers.

When Tampere Regional Solid Waste Management invested in a new digestion plant to replace composting, its counterpart Nokia Water was planning a new waste water treatment plant, they recognised their shared interest in building at the same site. This concept was turned into reality on a 600 hectare site within Finland’s leading bio- and circular economy business park. Its name, ECO3, reflects the goal of developing innovations in the bio-water- and circular economies.

The long-term objective of ECO3 is to develop service models for the management of municipal waste in cooperation with national and international partners using smart technology.

The development of the ECO3 area is the responsibility of Verte, an ECO3 platform company owned by the city of Nokia. Verte develops bio- and circular economy businesses and innovations on an industrial scale. It also markets the area, matchmakes private enterprises, looks for funding and R&D projects for stakeholders and helps scale cooperative models. The Tampere region economic development agency, Business Tampere, is tasked with getting companies to move to the area and link their operations into its regional corporate network.

The main ideas driving the work at ECO3 relate to nutrients, wood and energy. It is particularly concerned with the development of the nutrient cycle and the recovery of nutrients. This is aided by the anaerobic digestion plant, which has two separate material lines, one for waste water sludge and one for bio-waste and food industry, agriculture and forestry residuals. Potential end products include biological nutrients for food production, biogas for vehicles and raw materials for earthworks.

Finland produces such a wide range of wood products that there is much to be gained from understanding how to make circular use of all parts of the material flow. To capitalise on this potential there are plans for a 32 hectare biomass terminal at ECO3. This will act as a centralised area for the distribution and processing of wood-based materials for the energy industry and a draw for companies involved in the timber cycle and bio economy based activities.

ECO3 is also focused on making the versatile production of renewable energy and biofuels possible. It already has biogas production plants and runs pilots and demonstrations related to the industrial processing of biologically based fuels derived from by-products and waste products.

The lead agencies for the project are the cities of Tampere and Nokia in partnership with Temprere Solid Waste Management and property development company Verte Oy. The Eco3 project involves over 20 companies, research institutions, authorities and public corporations including Tampere University of Technology, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and the Natural Resources Institute of Finland.

The anchor companies of the Eco3 project have agreed on approximately EUR 60 million in investments for 2016–2019.

ECO3 is not only helping to restructure a vital industry, it has also already been instrumental in achieving the lowest waste management prices in Finland. This success owes much to ECO3’s location, platform services and cooperative spirit, as well as to the support of citizens who start the process by sorting their waste, and farmers who are open to trying new green and circular ideas.

The experience of pyrolysis specialist Ecomation exemplifies the ECO3 advantage. When it decided to build a new plant at ECO3 not only were land and permit issues sorted smoothly, but Verte found them suitable partners. In just over a year, Ecomation had set up a plant for processing decommissioned car tyres and plastic waste which its latest pyrolysis technique can use to create oil, carbon and gas - without generating any emissions.

The project concept is to be replicated in another area of Tampere, where good use will be made of the lessons learned at ECO3.

Cities in action - Tampere from linear to circular bioeconomy, Competence centre develops industrial scale waste-based innovations - EUROCITIES, November 2017

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Camille Toggenburger
Berlin, Germany

Camille Toggenburger

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