WANO Waste Management in High North - new cross-border business opportunities

The international consortium led by NORCE Norwegian Research Centre has been awarded a research grant of NOK 7,4 M by the Research Council of Norway for a three-year project to study cross-border business and innovation opportunities in waste management in the Barents Region and High North.

Waste management in the northern latitudes is often more challenging than in the more central regions. Under the Arctic climatic conditions with large distances between settlements and to the recycling facilities, and relatively small markets and volume of produced waste, there are special needs for developing new innovative solutions for waste management.

The waste management companies need to address technological issues of sustainable processing av waste, including incineration and reuse/recycling as well as use of energy and effectiveness, in an Arctic context. Furthermore, the sustainable waste management includes co-operation with Arctic local communities to ensure understanding and acceptance of customers and users, for instance in following the sorting guidelines. These challenges are not limited to one country, and are to a large extent shared by the northernmost regions in all Arctic states. This also creates opportunities for knowledge and experience sharing and collaboration on region-tailored solutions, including new business possibilities.

The need for in-depth examination of such opportunities has been the primary motivation behind the project Waste Management in High North - new cross-border business opportunities (WANO) that has been awarded funding by the Norwegian Research Council NFR for the years 2021-2023. The study will look at the cross-border business and innovation opportunities in the Barents Region and the High North within waste management. Moreover, the analysis will also include the specific (geo)political conditions, as well as social aspects of cross-border cooperation in the High North.

Special focus will be given to the analysis of municipal and industrial waste management in the neighbouring regions of Troms and Finnmark in Norway and Murmansk Oblast in Russia. Data on waste management collected in Northern Norway and Northwest Russia will be analysed together with Nordic benchmarking, including cases from Finland and Sweden.

The WANO project aims at producing new knowledge on the development of sustainable waste management in the northernmost regions in the High North. Moreover, the project’s overarching ambition is to build sustainable business-to-business and business-to-research networks, both nationally and internationally.

NORCE is the Lead Partner of the WANO project. Other research partners include Kola Science Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Apatity, Russia and the Nordic research institute Nordregio in Stockholm. The non-research organisations and industry partners have an important role especially in the empirical part of the study. Remiks and RaskRetur, waste management practitioners in Troms and Finnmark, provide their valuable expertise and networks to the WANO project and actively participate in project implementation.