Estonia's TalTech: Changes in thinking, production practices needed for circular economy

  • 2021-07-28
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - In order to introduce circular economy principles in Estonian food and agricultural enterprises, changes need to brought about in consumer's way of thinking and in businesses' culture and production practices, students of the Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech) concluded in a study.

Students of international business administration at TalTech studied how circular economy principles are implemented in Nordic and Baltic food and agricultural companies. The focus in the practical part of the study was placed on Estonian dairy company Epiim, retailer Rimi and ice cream manufacturer LaMuu.

The students examined the extent to which the companies' work processes reflect general trends in Estonia as well as which practices create value for the consumer and how technologies are used to achieve sustainability.

They concluded that in order to introduce circular economy principles, changes in the general way of thinking are needed and entire cultures of companies need to be changed, not just their marketing or production practices.

Rimi as one of the companies studied has set ambitious objectives to reduce food loss and the company's carbon footprint, an example of which is replacing its refrigerators and light bulbs with more environmentally friendly ones.

Epiim is planning to open Estonia's largest carbon neutral factory, and milk is already being transported from farms by carbon neutral trucks. Both Epiim as LaMuu are also exploring more sustainable ways of packaging to reduce plastic waste. Food waste is also virtually non-existent in both companies, according to the study results.

The Estonian companies have done a good job in terms of sustainability, according to the TalTech students. The sustainability focus in the studied businesses is on marketing, sustainability labels on packaging and the prevention of food and ingredient waste. The students' recommendation was to use clean energy both in production as well as in the businesses' operation as a whole and also engage in  close cooperation with environmental organizations and the rest of the food industry.

The study was carried out by students of international business administration at TalTech Alexandra Elova, Aizhas Beisembay, Sina Ansari Fard, Ankit Rana and Roman Cole, who participated in a Nordic-Baltic intensive course by the name of Nordbiz. The objective of the course was to study the implementation of circular economy principles in Nordic and Baltic food and agricultural companies.

Organized by the University College of Southeast Norway, participants in Nordbiz came from eight states' universities. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, communication between the students and thesis defense was carried out over the web.