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Doing business in Finland: Environmental rules

26 March 2012
by Ina Dimireva -- last modified 05 April 2016

The Environmental Protection Act in Finland requires business owners to be sufficiently aware of the environmental impacts and risks associated with their operations, and also of using the best available technology for reducing harmful emissions.


Legal requirements

Environmental Protection Act

Under the Environmental Protection Act and Decree, certain activities require a licence. Such activities may not commence before the licence has been awarded for them. If a permit is required under both the Environmental Protection Act and the Water Act, one application is enough and one permit will be issued for the project.

Environmental Protection Decree

Environmental control

The Ministry of the Environment is responsible for environmental management.

Ministry of the Environment

Business owners and other stakeholders are obliged to comply with the following legislation:

  • Water Act;
  • Waste Disposal Act;
  • Nature Protection Act;
  • Chemicals Act;
  • Land Use Act;
  • Building Act.

Waste management

According to the Waste Disposal Act, waste means material or liquid the owner of which has or intends to remove from use, or is obliged to remove from use.


Waste producers must be aware of the quality of the waste. For example, it should be attempted to demonstrate suitability for landfill and to classify problematic waste separately.

Corporate environmental responsibility > Waste


The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) is located in Helsinki, Finland. It implements the REACH Regulation.

European Chemicals Agency (ECHA)


The national guidelines for water conservation are defined in the principled decision of the Council of State on the water conservation guidelines up to 2015 and in the conservation programme for the Baltic Sea in Finland. Water management is planned for each water management area.

Water conservation

There are strict rules about channelling waste water into sewers.

Waste water

Climate and air

The goal of air protection is air quality that safeguards a healthy, comfortable habitat and preserves nature's ability to function.

Air protection

We are trying to reduce emissions from energy production, traffic and industry. The challenge for business is to find ways of managing emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC).

Air emissions

Noise abatement

Traffic (road, rail and air) is the most significant source of environmental noise. Reducing noise is necessary in workplaces for occupational health reasons.

Environmental noise - construction noise

The goal of noise abatement is a healthy, comfortable, noise-free living environment.

Noise abatement

Nuclear protection

There is information on radiation on websites such as the Ministry of the Environment and EnterpriseFinland.

Ministry of the Environment radiation safety targets

Businesses are free to go beyond the minimum environmental legal requirements at their own initiative.

Administrative procedures

Declaratory procedures

You must notify the environmental authorities of certain temporary operations. This applies to temporary noise and vibrations, test activities and exceptional situations causing environmental hazards.

When it receives a declaration, the environmental authority decides on whether to award a licence, and takes any related measures.

Waste management

Waste must be taken into consideration during product planning.

Waste issues

According to the Waste Act, arranging waste management is primarily the waste owner's obligation. The company's task is to identify, classify, store and send to an appropriate reception site any waste and problematic waste generated by its activities.

Organising waste management

Permits and licences

All actions that may result in soil, water or atmospheric pollution, must be licensed with an environmental permit. Other projects requiring a permit include those related to water, those involving launching certain types of chemicals on the market and those involving waste transport.

Environmental permit

The environmental permit contains provisions including those relating to the quality of activities, emissions and reducing emissions.

Environmental permit and stages of the permit process


The Ministry of the Environment website contains plenty of information on environmental issues.

Ministry of the Environment

The Ministry of the Environment's website includes environmental legislation and legal obligations, standards, permits and requirements.

Legislation, permits and forms

The website of the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities contains information and guidance relating to environmental protection.

Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities, Environmental Protection pages 

Several tools have been developed for managing environmental matters, including:

  • systems;
  • eco-labels;
  • lifespan assessments;
  • risk and material flow analyses to help organisations deal with statutory and other environmental matters. is a website that has many tools for assessing and managing risk. It is particularly designed for SMEs.

EnterpriseFinland has its own section for environmental matters:

EnterpriseFinland environment section


Finnvera's environment loan is a way of financing voluntary environmental investments. The project to be financed has to be based on the best available technology. The positive environmental effects resulting from the investment must also be significant.

Finnvera environment loan

Source: European Commission

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