When Peter Rasmussen decided to make the transition from international companies to smaller ones, he didn’t know what the future would hold. He ended up in an interesting role in the recycling of plastic packaging in Finland – a role that was genuinely an amazing vantage point.
“When my duties in international sales of packaging came to an end, I needed to consider my next step at 55 years of age. Quite quickly, I concluded that I wanted to work in Finland and, most of all, for the benefit of Finland – preferably with something entire new,” Peter describes. Recycling and producer responsibility had remained in his mind from earlier, and soon he found himself at Finnish Plastics Recycling (Sumi Oy as of August). Singapore and Brussels gave way to Kuopio, Seinäjoki and other municipalities in Finland – at the same time, he got to be involved in important developments in the field.
“The most memorable moments along the way have been the supply agreement for plastic packaging waste with Ekokem in 2015, which enabled the construction of a sorting and recycling facility in Riihimäki, and the procurement of more than 400 compactors from the Finnish company Europress Oy with SUK,” Peter says.
The Europe-wide competitive bidding and the deal that was closed remain among the largest in the field.
“Among other interesting events have been the construction and opening of the Ekopiste bring station collection network in 2016, the preparation and release of the design guide for recyclable plastic packaging in 2018 and, of course, the past couple of years as the more than a decade of confusion around organisation of producer responsibility has come to an end with Sumi becoming a producer responsibility organisation for all materials under the leadership of managing director Mika Surakka.”
Thanks to Peter, there are now yellow collection containers for plastic packaging in Finland. “I brought the yellow colour to the sorting label from CEN standardisation work, and it became the colour for the containers themselves. I made the colour the cheerful yellow to brighten up the range of grey waste containers,” he says.
There have been many changes during Peter’s time: “I’m a good example of how the changing world creates new fields and work tasks.” The producer responsibility, collection and recycling of plastic packaging were of little interest in 2011, but the situation is different now. Peter’s expertise around plastic packaging turned out to be very valuable when guiding businesses. “It has been very rewarding to be involved in this development and the efforts to make the world a better place,” Peter says.
Peter Rasmussen will officially retire from Sumi on 30 November 2023 after a 12-year career. He is grateful to his colleagues and the company’s stakeholders for the cooperation and sharing of information. He also extends his thanks to the extensive pool of professionals at the umbrella organisation EPRO, who were wonderfully welcoming to Peter.
“I would of course like to thank Sumi for the interesting workplace that provided me with the opportunity to do many things. Thanks to Vesa Kärhä and Mauri Nurmio who hired me as the company’s first full-time employee and to Vesa Soini who, as a waste management professional and supervisor, taught me about the ins and outs of the field.”
According to Peter, people in Finland know how to do things together, share information and make decisions. “You can’t be an expert without knowledge,” Peter says – this has been his motto throughout his career.