Sustainable pulp production

 

By using a 'Best Available Techniques' approach, we aim to ensure efficient use of raw materials, energy and water while minimising emissions to air and water.

Pulp production generates effluents and air emissions, solid waste, noise and odour that need to be managed. It is up to our people and our expertise to mitigate these impacts.

Smart water management

 

Water has a crucial role in our business from sustainable forestry through to production. We use a broad array of solutions for managing the impact of forestry on water resources. Our main harvesting solution is to leave untouched buffer zones along water courses and aquatic habitats.

We minimise runoff by utilising the vegetation’s own ability to absorb water and, where needed, we add any necessary buffering constructions. We follow separate guidelines for groundwater areas, which include restrictions on fertilising and ditching.

Our plantations in Uruguay are established in areas where sufficient water supply is available. We do not establish plantations in water stressed regions. Our impacts on water resources are constantly monitored at selected measurement points.

During the pulp production process, water is used, for example, in several washing stages in between the different process steps. High washing efficiency with a low amount of added fresh water is essential during production. Only a small portion of the water used in our production leaves the process and has to be replaced with fresh water. It is treated in mechanical and biological effluent treatment plants before being released into watercourses. Emission levels in the wastewater are regularly monitored and reviewed, both internally and by relevant authorities.

Water not only has a crucial role in our pulp production - it also plays a critical role in sustainable forestry. We use a broad array of solutions for managing the impact of forestry on water resources and our plantations in Uruguay are established in areas where sufficient water supply is available.

 

Less energy, less carbon

 

Most of our airborne emissions result from energy generation – but the majority of these do come from renewable sources like wood-based residues used as fuel, meaning that the carbon emissions part is mostly fossil-free.

We continually reduce air quality-related and carbon emissions by choosing non-fossil fuels and investing in new combustion and purification technology. Our modern pulp mills are extremely energy-efficient facilities that also produce plenty of surplus energy. Burning black liquor generates high-pressure steam that flows to generators for electricity production, and also results in low pressure steam used in different processes in a pulp mill.

Our mills provide CO2-neutral electricity to Nordic and Uruguayan markets. UPM is also the second largest generator of biomass-based electricity in Europe.

We are committed to year-on-year improvements to energy efficiency, as well as investing in ways to reduce our carbon emissions in our manufacturing processes, with the ultimate goal of producing a full portfolio of products that is ‘climate positive’ (i.e., where more CO2 is absorbed than is emitted).

 

Zero Solid Waste

We reuse or recycle most of our production waste. It is utilised either as raw material or in energy production.

UPM aims to become a Zero Solid Waste to Landfill company globally by 2030. This means that we will not deposit any waste in landfill sites or incinerate waste without energy recovery.

From 2016 to 2019, UPM implemented a Zero Solid Waste project that studied and tested green liquor dregs’ ability to be processed for the earth construction market. The results of the product development project were promising and confirmed that dregs could be utilised.

 
 

Smart use of resources

A circular economy ensures that materials are used more efficiently and can create a competitive advantage. For all our mills, operating by the ‘rules’ of a circular economy is business as usual. For example, the Kaukas mill site in Lappeenranta, Finland, makes efficient use of wood-based raw materials and also converts residues into goods with economic value.

 
 

See how our circular economy works

 

Logistics optimisation

Logistics optimisation enables us to minimise emissions caused by transportation. The transportation of raw materials and finished products can contribute significantly to their environmental footprint, depending on things like the mode of transport chosen and the fuel used. These impacts can be reduced through optimised routing and by favouring rail and sea transportation and low-emission fuels.

 
 

Related

Did you know that pulp mills produce lots of bioenergy?

Did you know that pulp mills produce lots of bioenergy?

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The circular bioeconomy enables us to address the challenges of both climate change and resource scarcity

The circular bioeconomy enables us to address the challenges of both climate change and resource scarcity

Read more at upm.com