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Finland's biggest waste-to-energy plant opens

Vantaan Energia officially opened a new waste-to-energy incinerator on Wednesday. The new plant is Finland's biggest of its kind, and will produce half of the district heating demand and 30 percent of the electricity needed in the municipality of Vantaa, part of the greater Helsinki area.

The facility has been thoroughly tested, with the first waste entering the system this spring. It's the biggest investment the local electricity company has ever made, replacing one unit at the company's existing incinerator in Malminlaakso.

30 percent cut in carbon-dioxide footprint

Around 320,000 metric tons of rubbish will arrive at the plant every year, before it is sorted and incinerated to produce some 920 gigawatt-hours of heat and 600 gigawatt-hoursof electricity. That will reduce Vantaan Energia's carbon output by 30 percent.

The plant's emissions will be monitored continually, and the unit will be shut down if it exceeds a certain limit. Handling waste in this way is becoming more common in Finland, but the country still lags behind neighboring Sweden. About 90 percent of Swedish waste is recycled or used to produce energy, while in Finland the corresponding figure is just 40 percent.

The new plant will burn rubbish collected across the Uusimaa region of southern Finland.

This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch News as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.