Europe Day 2019
Crea-RE: Learning About Circular Economy
Crea-RE is about sustainable development and gives the participating students an opportunity to learn and work on the different aspects of the circular economy. The project is held in collaboration with four universities from Sweden, Latvia, Finland, and Russia. The project utilizes the students’ ability to work effectively in an international environment while getting to analyze and develop more sustainable ways for the companies to operate. The project also included knowledge about the local culture and legislation, as they are mandatory in order to develop long-lasting and practical solutions for the future. This year’s host institution was the University of Latvia, which is currently investing heavily on the development of current campus areas and for that, offered a perfect place for the project to kick-off.
The project is divided into three parts; Introduction to the circular economy and the local facilities, hands-on teamwork while developing a case study, and finalizing as well as presenting the results of the 2 months of work.
During our 5-day introductive trip, we got to know the Latvian University, culture, and some of the local companies working to develop the circular economy in the Riga area. The final goal is to develop a case study for every collaborating company, focusing on the environmental aspects of the production. In the case studies, we need to utilize the information gathered during the company and site visits, as well as the lectures held at the host institution, University of Latvia.
Partner companies for this year’s project are Fortum Latvija, ECO Baltija, Nordic Plast, Pet Balitja and ZAAO LTD. Every one of these companies is a local forerunner in their own sector, developing and building a greener future for the people of Latvia and Baltics.
Picture 1. Landfill of the ZAAO LTD in the North Vidzeme Region of Latvia
In the North Vidzeme Region of Latvia, ZAAO LTD offers waste management services including waste collection, waste sorting, transporting to the landfills, and recycling due to environmental friendly codes. Above all, ZAAO is a heat and electricity energy producer. ZAAO supplies the electricity for 500 households of the region. Besides, it generates heat by which the company benefits owning its greenhouses to plant and grow organic vegetables. ZAAO also has education campaigns and cooperates with the municipality to improve the green cultural awareness.
Picture 2. Skiing competition: Sweden against Russia
Picture 3. Crea-RE team visiting ZAAO LTD waste management company
ECO Baltija is an umbrella organization for Latvia’s plastic recycling. It is the largest environmental management group in Baltics and provides comprehensive services for the waste management industry. Their two biggest customers are the construction industry as well as the common household waste collectors.
For the plastic waste, Latvia and other Baltic countries are utilizing the services of Nordic Plast, which is amongst the leading polyethylene recycling companies in Latvia. They are mainly focusing on producing HDPE and LDPE materials, used to make bottles and other plastic containers. PET Baltija, on the other hand, is specializing in used PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottle secondary recycling by producing high quality PET flakes and pellets.
Picture 4. PET pellets from PET Baltija
Locating in Jelgava, Fortum provides the main income of electricity and heat for the consumers in the Riga area. Globally, Fortum is one of the leading energy companies, operating in 10 countries with over 9000 employees worldwide.
Last but not least, the project involved a Latvian brewery, Valmiermuiza, which is one of the most known craft-beer manufacturers in Latvia. During the brewery tour, we got the opportunity to learn about the production of beer and the environmental aspects of the brewery industry.
During the trip, we had excellent opportunities to learn about Latvia, its culture and circular economy. Culture hours provided an excellent chance to get a more in-depth look to Latvia’s history and recent development in the waste, energy, and brewery industries.
Company visits provided a good starting point, where we got knowledge about the local environmental economy and learned how different the systems actually are in the Baltic and the Nordic countries. The international aspect also made its impact, as working in multicultural teams always provides a challenge of its own.
Crea-RE project in a two and a half year project funded by Interreg Central Baltic programme. Crea-RE aligns and produces contents on resource-efficiency to be used in environmental vocational education and training programmes in a partnership consisting of: Lahti University of Applied Sciences (FI), the University of Gävle (SWE) and the University of Latvia (LV). Russian University ITMO is integrated to this project with the funding of the Swedish Institute (Crea-RE-RU).
Written by: Niko Wallenius, Alan Nakari, Kaisa Marttinen, Shima Edalatkhah students of Lahti UAS participating the Crea-RE project and Lea Heikinheimo, Principal lecturer and the project manager of the Crea-RE project.
Photos: Lea Heikinheimo