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Cleaning up the Baltic Sea through cooperation with companies

The eutrophication of the Baltic Sea is one of the most significant environmental problems in Northern Europe. Environmentally responsible companies have joined the effort to save the Baltic Sea.

Last summer was the worst in several decades in terms of the abundance of blue-green algae blooms. Habitat changes caused by climate change and the emissions from industrial activity and housing have a particularly dramatic and visible impact on a body of water such as the Baltic Sea.

There are about 90 million people living in the catchment area of the Baltic Sea.

“The average depth of the Baltic Sea is only 55 metres, compared to 4.5 kilometres for the Atlantic, for example. The eutrophication and contamination of the sea, as well as changes in the populations of fish and other organisms, are easily evident in this exceptionally small and brackish sea,” says Annamari Arrakoski-Engardt, Secretary General of the John Nurminen Foundation, which focuses on the protection of the Baltic Sea.

Extensive environmental efforts supported by companies

According to Arrakoski-Engardt, the most essential aspect of protecting the Baltic Sea is the fight against high phosphorus and nitrogen concentrations.

Plastic waste does not move from the mostly enclosed Baltic Sea into the ocean in the same way as in Asia, where the monsoon blows waste from rivers out to the ocean. Floating islands of plastic in the ocean have made dramatic headlines this year.

“Blue-green algae feeds on phosphorus, and we use all means available to reduce the amount of phosphorus discharged into the water and already in the water. We also work to preserve the Baltic Sea’s biodiversity and keep it rich in oxygen, which has a significant impact on the conservation of our entire ecosystem.”

Even a donation of just €10 can help remove 50 kg of algae from the sea.

Companies that support environmental conservation efforts have proved to be invaluable in supporting this fight.

“We are very grateful to all of the companies and private individuals who have participated in our protection efforts. Without their support, we could not carry out our extensive conservation projects,” says Annamari Arrakoski-Engardt, Secretary General of the John Nurminen Foundation.

“About 70% of our donations come from companies. Support from the business sector has already enabled us to achieve notable results in reducing phosphorus concentrations. We have already reached one-sixth of the long-term targets set by the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, which can be considered a very significant achievement by an individual organisation,” Arrakoski-Engardt points out.

Sponda was convinced by the results of support efforts

Sponda has been involved in supporting Baltic Sea protection for several years now. According to Sponda’s Sustainability Manager Pirkko Airaksinen, the results of the protection efforts motivate the company to provide continued support.

The state of the Gulf of Finland has improved significantly thanks to projects carried out with support from companies. The reduction of phosphorus emissions from a fertiliser production plant in Kingisepp in Northwest Russia is considered to be one of the greatest achievements in Baltic Sea protection.

“We want to be involved in genuinely responsible and sustainable activities, and a clean Baltic Sea is a vital objective for all of us. The efforts to protect the Baltic Sea are based on scientific studies and the results of the support projects are concrete and measurable,” Airaksinen adds.

Responsibility is built through diverse cooperation

In addition to doing its share for the environment, Sponda also wants to make a contribution in the area of social responsibility. This Christmas, the company supports Cancer Foundation Finland as well as the Hope Foundation, which helps children from low-income families, and the Joulupuu charity campaign.

We aim to make our entire industry more responsible.

“On the large scale, we aim to establish responsible practices ourselves and make our entire industry more responsible. Among other things, we have created our own environmental partnership programme to help customer companies develop their sustainability. In property development, we make use of design guidelines for highly energy-efficient buildings that we have developed ourselves,” Airaksinen says.

“The average Finn eats about 13 kg of sweets per year, and less than 1 kg of fish. You could neutralise your Baltic Sea footprint simply by eating two fillets of sustainably sourced Baltic Sea fish per week,” Arrakoski-Engardt says.

However, comprehensive progress in the area of sustainability and responsibility can only be achieved through cooperation.

“Our customers and partners play a key role in engaging in sustainable business. The John Nurminen Foundation, with its strong commitment to the protection of the Baltic Sea, is a great example of a partner that engages in environmental conservation efforts with a great deal of professional skill and devotion,” Airaksinen concludes.

How you can help the Baltic Sea:

  • Get involved in protection efforts – By donating €10 to the John Nurminen Foundation’s Clean Baltic Sea projects, you help remove 50 kg of algae from the sea.
  • Only eat sustainably caught fish whose populations are not endangered, such as domestic cyprinids, Baltic herring, perch, pike and MSC certified seafood.
  • Reduce your meat consumption – meat and dairy production have a particularly heavy impact on the Baltic Sea.
  • Sort waste correctly and compost your biodegradable waste – reducing waste reduces the impact on waterways.
  • Avoid the use of plastic packaging and unnecessary chemicals in cosmetics, cleaning and laundry.
  • Use public transport and choose nearby destinations for holiday travel – reducing transport emissions also reduces particle loads and nitrogen deposition into waterways.