The Ministry of the Environment handed out the first-ever ‘Muovin kierto’ (Plastic Circulation) award at the ‘Muovifoorumi’ plastics event on 24 October 2023. Through the award, the ministry wants to highlight problem solvers who have promoted the change towards a breakthrough in the circular economy of plastics. The award, which was now granted for the first time, was received by Sumi’s managing director and long-term recycling expert Mika Surakka.
The recipient of the award was selected by the ‘Muoviraati’ panel, which consists of citizens and operates in connection to the Plastics Roadmap for Finland 2.0. The Roadmap is an extensive national programme that aims for a solution in the circular economy of plastics by 2030.
Mika Surakka’s mission is to increase the collection rate of plastic packaging among Finns and drive Finland to achieve the recycling goals set by the EU.
“I’m incredibly flattered about this award. Obviously, I haven’t handled the plastic recycling projects alone. I’ve had the fortune to work with amazing teams, colleagues, and partners. Together we have achieved our goals,” Mika Surakka says.
“I’ve always been apprehensive about taking the conventional path in business. Thanks to this core approach, I’ve sought new, sometimes highly unusual, solutions. We need the same kind of thinking for Finland to reach the recycling goals for plastic packaging – we need to work as a team with new ideas.
In the words of State Secretary Timo Jaatinen who handed out the award: “The ‘Muovin kierto’ award is not only an acknowledgement of past achievements as it is also intended to provide inspiration for the future. Hopefully, it will encourage us to reach higher and find new ways of expediting a breakthrough in the circular economy of plastics. As the recipient himself has said: We need to keep our eyes set firmly forwards and create solutions for the coming decades.”
25 years of plastic recycling
Mika Surakka has built a 25-year career around the recycling of plastics and developed innovative solutions to promote the circular economy. In 2000, he established the first Finnish company, Muovix Oy, that could recycle mixed plastics into reusable products. In addition to this, he has been involved in developing a method for manufacturing plastic cores for the packaging industry.
“The essential thing is for sustainable recycling to be based on persistent recycling business instead of recycling activities alone. I’ve always strived to build sustainable concepts that require no funding from society, for example. In other words, the recycling pays for itself,” Mika Surakka says.
Surakka has been the managing director of Sumi Oy (formerly Finnish Plastics Recycling Ltd) since 2021.
Sumi Oy has been conducting and actively developing the recycling of plastic packaging in Finland for years, ensuring that Finland has the sufficient sorting capacity for plastic packaging. In 2022 alone, Sumi recycled 54 million kilos of packaging plastic through its network. Since the 2016 regulatory transition to the current full producer responsibility, Sumi as a producer responsibility organisation for packaging has recycled significantly more than 300,000 tonnes of packaging plastic.
“Mika Surakka is a team player, and his teams are the company and the country. Efficient recycling also reduces the EU payment for own resources, which saves millions of euros each year in payments that Finland needs to make to the EU. Mika has truly earned this accolade for 25 years of persistent work and innovation for the benefit of the circular economy and plastic recycling,” Chairman of the Board for Sumi Oy Antti Tiilikainen says in summary.