Business Philosophy – Sharing Business Experiences in the Nordic Countries

For many years, I have been eager to develop procurement operations in the Nordic region, which includes Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. These countries have a combined population of approximately 27,000,000, with Sweden accounting for 10,500,000. The average GDP of the Nordic countries is higher than that of Europe and other countries, particularly in recent years for Norway. Due to the discovery of oil, Norway’s average annual income has increased from US$1,441 in 1960 to US $87,739 in 2023, making it one of the highest-income countries in the world. Ironically, Norway used to lag behind Finland, Denmark, and Sweden, but now it surpasses all Nordic countries. Historically, over a thousand years ago, Denmark, including present-day Norway, Sweden, and Finland, ruled England for several decades and possessed the present Baltic states. Therefore, when mentioning Norway, Danes and Swedes feel a bit bitter and indignant, saying that without oil resources, Norway would not have its current achievements.


The first time I came to the Nordic countries was in 1984. That year, a Dutch friend and I drove from the Netherlands through Germany to Denmark, sometimes taking car ferries as if traveling between states, visiting these countries. We spent more than a week in total, finding some suppliers mainly focused on PVC waste and PE films, which were just types of waste plastics available at that time. In the late 1990s, we established contact with Denmark’s LEGO and Sweden’s Stena, which increased our quantities and provided a stable monthly volume. This continued until 2010, when many businesses from mainland China started competing with us for goods in Europe and America, diverting some quantities to them. Later, mainland China implemented policies banning the import of waste plastics, coupled with amendments to the Basel Convention, limiting the export of most waste plastics. Our imports of recyclable plastics from these countries almost wholly ceased and stagnated. Currently, in these countries, we only import some marine waste plastics from Norway, focusing on fishing nets and ropes and raw materials from Sweden’s petrochemical companies.


Many countries’ policies prohibit the import and export of waste plastics. With the implementation of the Basel Convention, although their goal is to recycle waste under the premise of environmental protection, the recycling rate remains below 9%. The main reason is that recycling waste plastics requires sorting, classifying, and cleaning to produce recycled materials. Europe, the United States, and other developed countries need more essential resources to classify and recycle the diverse range of recyclable materials. Despite the current sorting methods, equipment like infrared and electrostatic technology, and the widespread use of AI in developed and developing countries, basic manual sorting can only be effectively carried out in labor-resourceful countries. Moreover, most recycled materials are used in the most populous countries in Southeast Asia. Current policies are indeed detrimental to environmental protection and resource allocation.



Original by Dr. Steve Wong

May 31,2024

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