Finland is hailed as one of the most innovative countries in the world for renewable energy, and now they have done it again.
A Finnish company has found a way to turn leftovers from Christmas dinner into a renewable energy source.
The scheme has been named Kinkkutemppu – which translates to ‘ham trick’.
The company will be taking unwanted fat from Christmas hams, the dish of choice in Finland, and will convert it at their Porvoo refinery. The fat will be donated by Finnish families, and will become diesel when the process is complete.
Neste are hosting the campaign. Their experts believe that the fat from a single joint of ham could provide two miles’ worth of fuel for a car.
Considering that 7 million kg of ham are cooked in Finland every festive season, this means that they could be on to a real scheme. They expect to be able to create enough fuel for a car to be able to drive around the world 3 times over.
“As far as we know this is the first project of its kind… we hope that later on collecting waste cooking fats will become a norm. I don't expect this alone to play any meaningful role in meeting climate or CO2 targets,” said Osmo Kammonen, the company owner. “But drops make an ocean.”
The company has been set up as not-for-profit, and describes itself as “a refining company, a garbage collector, a daily goods chain, a fat renderer, a chemical industry organization, a sewage organization and a household organization”. The sales of the fuel will be used to support charities which benefit disadvantaged families.
“Every year, excess fat causes problems for households and water supply plants,” said Simo Honkanen, Senior Vice President of Sustainability at Neste. “Instead of disposing of the the fat – or even worse – pouring it down the drain, it can be used as an energy source. This also applies to other sources of waste and residue. It’s a new idea so the scale is quite limited, therefore it will not completely resolve the energy problem yet. But we wish to show that daily materials and waste can be used in an environmentally good way.”
By using household waste, greenhouse gas emissions could see a reduction of 90%, compared to normal fossil fuels.
The campaign aims not only to support charitable causes, but also to raise the awareness that a circular bioeconomy could be possible within Finland. Every household can contribute towards sustainability, they believe, and it could be achieved within our lifetimes. Those with food science jobs doubtless already know that efforts towards reducing food waste and increasing sustainability are a buzzword for the year. As companies around the world become more aware of these issues, we can expect to see initiatives like this one on the rise.
This is just the latest in a long line of initiatives putting Finland on the map for sustainability. It came top in the 2016 Economic Performance Index, which measures eco-friendly policies across the world.
Officials have also recently announced plans to ban the use of coal. This will help them move closer to their ultimate goal: being the first country to operate only on green energy. It’s a big goal, but one they are closer than ever before to achieving.
So, how can you help if you live in or have contacts in Finland? Chefs are being encouraged to ensure that their employers hand over waste fat from restaurants, as are individual families. Neste are providing recyclable boxes for this purpose.