Ekokem, originally called Oy Suomen Ongelmajäte – Finlands Problemavfall Ab, was established in 1979. This is the same year that the Waste Management Act came into force, defining hazardous waste and how it should be treated. Ekokem was established for the public good, to treat, store, recycle and transport hazardous waste, to cooperate with other actors, and to carry out research and consultancy in the industry.
Waste treatment was launched in Kuuloja, Riihimäki in 1984. The plant had a high-temperature kiln, a physicochemical plant, and a landfill site for hazardous waste. The company began supplying district heating to the city of Riihimäki in 1984. In 1985, the company changed its name to Ekokem Oy Ab.
In 1994, Ekokem was the first company in the world to receive simultaneous ISO 9001 and BS 7750 quality and environmental certification. The integrated management system later received ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 certification. In 1995, remediation of contaminated soil and water was started.
In 2000, a new corporate structure divided Ekokem’s business into companies, and R&D switched priorities to focus on waste services, the remediation of contaminated soil, and environmental construction.
Finland’s first modern grate incineration plant was started up in Riihimäki in 2007. The plant utilised household waste from neighbouring towns and cities to provide district heating and electricity.
In 2008, Ekokem applied for tax liability and began paying dividends to its shareholders. The Group underwent a structural reorganisation and began to take a more customer-oriented approach. In 2011, Ekokem acquired Suomen Rakennusjäte Oy, which is was merged with TSJ-Yrityspalvelut Oy. In 2012, another plant using municipal waste as an energy source was commissioned. In the same year, Ekokem expanded its operations in Sweden by acquiring the entire share capital of the Swedish environmental management company Sakab AB.
Ekokem acquired the Riihimäki-based company Muovix Oy in September 2013.
In January 2015, Ekokem acquired the entire share stock of the Danish environmental management company NORD, strengthening its position on the Nordic market.
In June 2016, Ekokem opened a unique set of refineries, the Circular Economy Village, in Riihimäki, for separating raw materials from municipal waste for recycling and reuse.
In August 2016, the Finnish energy company Fortum acquired Ekokem Group.
Sakab was formed in autumn 1969 by Svenska Utvecklingsbolaget and Svenska Industrietableringens Aktiebolag (SVETAB), each of which invested 25 percent of the share capital, and Alfa-Laval and the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions, which jointly provided the remaining 50 percent of the share capital.
The company was formed to resolve the problems caused by hazardous waste that were noted in Sweden during the 1960s.
The first of the company’s operations was conducted by the subsidiary Industridestillation in Lövsta, near Stockholm, Sweden’s capital. Distillation of solvents was one of the processes performed at the plant, which has since been closed down.
In 1976, the Swedish State took over as the principal owner, and the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions and the Swedish Industry Foundation for Waste Treatment became joint owners. During the same year, Sakab purchased the company Terrabona, with operations in Norrtorp in Kumla Municipality, 200 kilometres west of Stockholm.
The incineration plant in Norrtorp was deployed in September 1983.
In 1992, the principal ownership was transferred from the Swedish State to WMI Sellbergs, but the Swedish State retained one share in the company. This share was sold in the spring of 2006.
Since 8 June 2012, Ekokem Oy AB (www.ekokem.fi) has been the principal shareholder in Sakab, with a 100 per cent holding.
NORD was established in 1971 in Nyborg, Denmark. NORD treats hazardous waste and produces district heating and electricity from waste-derived energy. In 2012, NORD expanded its operations by acquiring H20 Liquid Waste A/S, a Danish company which specialises in the treatment of waste oils.
NORD’s activities are certified in accordance with the ISO 14001, ISO 14064, EMAS III and OHSAS 18001 standards.
NORD has invested in a plant in which more than 1,700 tons of iron are recovered from ferrous slag produced in the incineration process annually. NORD has recovered valuable metals, such as zinc and copper, from the filter cake for many years. These metals are reused in construction materials.
In 2013, NORD strengthened its market position by acquiring Gunnar Lund Group, a company which focuses on the treatment of waste oils. In January 2015, NORD was acquired by Ekokem and is now part of the Ekokem Group.