Matter of fact: How circular economy works?

Circular economy conserves natural resources and mitigates climate change. Here is how the circular economy operators in the City of Helsinki promote a wise use of resources. 

Written by Anne Ventelä Photos by Essi Kuula

What is circular economy?  

In a circular economy, people opt for sharing, renting and recycling items instead of buying them. The products are designed to be durable, and once they reach the end of their life after several rounds of maintenance and repairs, their materials will be utilised in other ways. 

Circular economy supports the climate goals of the City of Helsinki, which strives to be carbon-neutral by 2030 through concrete actions. At an individual level, everyone can reduce their carbon footprint by choosing to repair, share and recycle things. 

How circular economy works 

  1. If you need something, borrowing it or buying it second-hand is worthwhile. The best way of conserving natural resources is to refrain from buying new things. 
  2. New products are designed to be durable, and their service life is prolonged as far as possible. When used goods can be repaired and restored, their lifecycle will be longer. 
  3. Once a product has been used up, the materials and packages will be turned into new products. Loss and waste is minimised. 

Circular economy helps conserve vital natural resources, reduce emissions and create jobs. Often, it also helps you save money. 

Symbols for different thing you get from circular economy shops.

Circular economy services offered by the City of Helsinki 

You can find sustainable services in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area on the map at by using the keyword ‘kiertotalous’ or ‘circular economy’. 

Recycled household goods 

The Helsinki Metropolitan Area Reuse Centre has 10 shops and an online shop. In addition to clothes, household goods, fixed appliances and electronics, the shops also offer bicycles and recycled clothing and furniture from the PlanB brand. 

Renovated furniture 

The Pakila workshop repairs furniture from the City’s facilities. Some are returned to the City, while others are sold at the furniture shop. Shelves, tables, chairs and clothes racks find new homes with local residents or companies.  


Handicrafts out of recycled and surplus materials 

The Uusix shops in Kyläsaari and Hakaniemi Market Hall sell crafts made of recycled and surplus materials. Abloy keys have been turned into jewellery, and carpets from trade fairs into laptop bags and slippers. Elm trees felled on Mechelininkatu street were given a new lease of life as footstools, spatulas and earrings. 

Construction supplies for your home from a renovation site 

Do you need a sauna heater or kitchen cabinets for your summer cottage? A second-hand door for a renovation project? You should visit the Uusix construction recycling shop in Kyläsaari. The shop sells surplus construction supplies from homes and worksites. 

Goods from worksites to consumers 

Stara Reuse Centre sells furniture removed from the City’s construction and renovation sites via the online auction. You can use the keyword ‘Helsingin kaupunki’ or ‘City of Helsinki’ to search for products. Obsolete cars and machinery are sold via bidding competitions twice a year. 


A number 50 896 000 kg.

If each item bought second-hand from the Helsinki Metropolitan Area Reuse Centre in 2021 replaced a new item that would have been purchased otherwise, 50 million kilograms of tangible natural resources and 2.3 million cubic metres of water were conserved. Up to 12.3 million kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions were avoided. 

Products sold in 2021 

Helsinki Metropolitan Area Reuse Centre 

  • 128,732 shirts 
  • 63,109 items of children’s and babies’ clothing 
  • 56,916 trousers 
  • 35,353 coats 
  • 6,400 home appliances 

Stara Reuse Centre 

  • 197 pieces of small machinery and worksite equipment 
  • 103 passenger cars or vans 
  • 53 pieces of machinery 
  • 33 carpenter’s benches 
  • 27 worksite huts and sea containers 

PC Shop of the Uusix Workshop 

  • 1,556 workstations 
  • 508 laptops 
  • 1,098 displays 
  • 568 printers 

Sources: Environmental planner Pirita Kuikka, City of Helsinki; head supervisor Piiu Merivirta von Hellens, Pakila work centre; adviser for strategy and development Tuovi Kurttio, Helsinki Metropolitan Area Reuse Centre; director Vuokko Oikarinen, Uusix workshops; service manager Teemu Levander, Stara Reuse Centre