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Excursion to Kuusakoski

SBC visits Kussakoski's Heinola recycling plant

When was the last time you got to throw on a hardhat and safety vest at a company excursion? In Heinola, and with SBC, anything is possible! Once upon a time, a busload of kylteris told the bus driver to put the pedal the medal, and drive us to the Heinola. An hour and a half later the bus, kind courtesy of Kuusakoski, arrived at Kuusakoski's Heinola recycling plant. Our entourage, 14 deep plus guest-starring the bus driver, were treated to a few presentations about Kuusakoski as a company and recycling as a business, the famous free lunch, and a tour of the Heinola facilities.
Ever wonder where all the cars of Finland go to die? Well, the answer is likely Heinola. Or then Africa, if it’s a Toyota. See, recycling is a funny business, that goes a bit like this:
1. Take something that is of little to no value to someone
2. Ship it
3. ???
4. Profit
Truth to be told, step number 3 is not quite mystery we tried to imply. But it did fit the meme whole lot better. In actuality, we got a pretty detailed look into how you turn torn up cars, beer cans and old kitchen sinks into BARS AND NUGGETS, of aluminum. First with the presentations, and then by the tour around the aluminum foundry and the facilities, hence the hard hats and such. Much to the dismay to the inner rapper in all of us, we were not admitted to where they collect noble metals, which they do too. Anyway, what we witnessed was a multiphase technical process that includes huge grinders, X-rays, pneumatic air and something called upotuskellutus. Oh, and a Mount Doom -worthy furnace. The end result is this:
Aalto Sustainable Business Club
It's not silver, but it's still worth a few million.
And this:
Aalto Sustainable Business Club
And along the way, this too:
Aalto Sustainable Business Club
In Africa, the process is supposedly of less technical pedigree, and the level of non-usable waste generated higher, if Kuusakoski is to believe. Then again, the cars that end up there apparently get driven until they absolutely drive no more, so who knows.

If it's not apparent from the pics above, recycling is a big business, both in terms of materials moved, and operating capital. It’s also a dirty and noisy business. Kuusakoski is a billion dollar business, and Heinola alone handles some 427 000 tons of material per year. If that doesn’t strike you as big enough, what about 2,5 million tons, which is what Kuusakoski handles per year?  Big machinery, tainted rusty by magnetite, are used to process material, and even bigger machines (think trucks, a lot of them, and containerships) are used to move the products around the world. That’s a whole lot of fuel and electricity consumed to put that cell phone you used for a year back to something usable again, provided it actually got recycled in the first place. There’s also the 5-10% of by- or end product that has no viable use, and gets thus dumped to landfills. Kuusakoski wasn’t by any means oblivious to their environmental footprint; then again, they use one as a business symbol, so maybe one should expect that. Anyway, they are stepping up their CSR-reporting game in the coming year, GRI-frameworks and appropriate sector supplement needs and all, so we you can see and compare for yourselves sometime this year.

Why is any of this interesting to you? It’s a dirty job and maybe less sexy than some, (unless safety vests are your thing, which is totally fine btw.), but somebody’s better do it. And they need business people too, do it, global operations and all. Best part for you? Apprently, they don’t get too many business student applications for their openings. Also, their main office is in Espoo, which is probably more convenient for most of us than Heinola. So keep an eye out.

Oh, and in case you saw our posters, yes, the lunch was free, the pea soup wasn’t leanin terms of meat, and they had pancakes and whipped cream for dessert. Not bad, eh?

More pictures from the excursion are available on our FB-page:

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