Solutions for 1,5°C World – Smart & Clean newsletter

News 21.12.2020

We are halfway through Smart & Clean Foundation’s fifth and final year. Since 2016 we have been working hard to create climate solutions together with the Helsinki metropolitan cities, companies, universities, R&D institutions, and the Finnish state. The objective of our work has been to make the Helsinki region a showcase for climate solutions globally.

COVIC-19 pandemic has shown that Finnish people have a special ability to act jointly, adapt to circumstances and to figure out solutions. We can be genuinely proud of how we’ve handled the pandemic. Climate crisis and biodiversity loss challenge us to change the structures and operational models of our societies in unprecedented speed – from linear economy built on fossils to circular economy based on carbon neutrality.

With strong public-private collaboration and ecosystemic solutions we can accelerate the speed of necessary changes. By working together towards systemic climate and circular solutions we can maintain our global forerunner status as a cleantech and circular economy nation and scale the solutions to global markets.

World’s leading cities look at Helsinki to learn about impactful climate solutions

Cities worldwide are frantically searching for solutions to the climate crisis and those who are able to offer impactful and systemic solutions are leading the way.

Smart & Clean has been invited to join C40’s City Business Climate Alliance as a Global network fellow.

C40, the world’s leading climate network for cities has joined forces with CDP (global environmental disclosure system) and WBCSD (World Business Council for Sustainable Development) for finding climate solutions in a collaboration platform called City Business Climate Alliance (CBCA). It aims at creating climate solutions in public-private ecosystems in 100 big cities globally by 2025.

Smart & Clean has been invited to join C40’s City Business Climate Alliance as a Global network fellow and we will continue the work until June 2021. There is real potential for showcasing and scaling up Finnish solutions to the global market. Smart & Clean’s impact driven model has been picked up by C40 and their partners, as well as several individual cities and organisations around the world. We have had good collaboration with a range of actors, such as City of Tel Aviv, Boston Green Ribbon Commission, San Francisco Business Council for Climate Change, Solar Impulse Foundation, New York Civ:LAB, London Circular Economy Road Map, and Earthshot Prize. Please contact Iina Oilinki for more information about our international collaboration and our model for impactful climate solutions.

Making impactful climate solutions

Since 2019, our work has centered on making the most impact with the solutions we work on. This has, in practice, meant that we work with a model that lays down the steps needed to reach big enough CO2 emission reductions.

The first step in solving the climate crises is understanding the big picture of the emissions. What are the biggest sources of emissions? Most cities’ carbon neutrality plans concentrate on emissions produced within the city borders, but consumer-based emissions are about three times as much – these are the emissions produced by people through consumption of food, electronics, clothes, travelling and the like. Unless we start dealing with consumption-based emissions as well, we will not be able to tackle the climate crises fast enough.


Our work has focused on tackling challenges that touch both the area based and consumption-based emissions. 
The Closed Plastic Circle, our flagship project is doing exactly that. The goal is to comprehensively cover the entire life cycle of plastic, from product design to collection and reprocessing into new products. The mass production of plastics emits CO2 outside our city borders but we as consumers are the cause for the demand. Burning plastics as waste creates more CO2 emissions. Our answer has been to look at a system solution that would tackle both of these sources and create a closed loop of circular material flow within the Helsinki metropolitan region.

In order to do that we have created a model that helps understand the interlinkages and connections of different actions and their joint impact. In order to maximize the circularity of plastics we need to change the way we design, collect, recycle, re-use, sell and buy recycled plastics. But more than that we also need to talk to regulators and funding institutions about how their actions can make a real difference in changing the world towards a more climate positive future.

Closed plastic loop aims at increasing the rate of recycled plastic material from the current 6% to 60% and once we reach that level, we will reduce the emissions of plastics by 336.000 tons – equivalent of 80.000 people’s annual emissions in the Helsinki metropolitan region.

The change will be achieved by using a widespread, fact-based management approach that uses all available means. The concrete work among our partners has started, but during spring 2021 we still need to step up and take new actions. So please get in touch with us if you have good ideas on how to promote plastic recycling! As an orchestrator in the public-private ecosystem, we have continued our work with a dynamic model to estimate the overall volumes for construction and hard plastics in Helsinki region, we’ve been compiling fragmented project information in a coordinated manner for the use of actors, as well as producing tools for information management. Please contact Jaana Pelkonen in the Closed Plastic Circle related issues.

Make change happen

Smart & Clean model can be used for changing any other sector (e.g., food, textiles, mobility, built environment). The work starts by defining the goal of the work – whether it’s increasing the recyclability of used textiles in the city by X% – or reducing the emissions from mobility by x%. Use data and calculate impact to show where important results can be made. Once you know where you want to be, figure out all the things you need to change in order to get there, think big! Think about the structures, how the current system is running. What causes the emissions or what are the obstacles stopping circularity or emission reduction?

Once you’ve defined all the required actions identify the players you need. Bring them together, convince them of their role in the system, the interconnectedness of all the required actions. Make them part of the change. Change will happen within the participating organizations, but the most impact comes from them working towards a shared goal. You will most likely need both public and private sectors, as well as world class research and innovators.

This is the model we are sharing with leading cities in the world. We in Finland have the ability to change things for the better, we are well educated, we are world leaders in tech, we trust each other and our system funds innovation. We can take the climate and circular economy leadership in the world.

Smart & Clean Foundations work will end in June 2021. If you and your organisation would be interested in hearing more about our model and work, we are very happy to give a presentation and share our learnings during winter/spring 2021. Please contact Tiina Kähö on this.


Thank you for good collaboration in 2020 and wishing you Happy holidays!

– Smart & Clean Team