We work for better climate and environment

We work for a better ​climate and environment

Environmental management

The main principles of Metsä Board’s Environmental Policy are environmental responsibility, energy, water and material efficiency, the promotion of sustainable forestry and requiring environmental and social responsibility from our suppliers. In addition to the Environmental Policy, our operations are guided by Metsä Group’s Sustainability Principles, which comprehensively cover business, economic and social responsibility issues, as well as environmental sustainability.

When defining our opportunities and challenges with regard to sustainability or our competitiveness, we need to also carefully consider global macro trends such as: climate change, the global scarcity of water, deforestation, ever tightening regulations on transportation and waste management, governmental incentives for the use of wood in energy generation, and energy taxation. Our analyses of the future prospects for Metsä Board indicate that our business provides good opportunities, but that there are also some risks requiring active mitigation.

We work actively to minimise and manage all environmental impacts related to our operations. We take a proactive approach to environmental risk management that includes assessing, monitoring and mitigating all the environmental risks related to our partners’ operations as well as our own operations. We manage environmental risks by complying with the limits set in the mills’ environmental permits on factors such as discharges to water, emissions to air, noise, and accidental releases. We also conduct regular environmental risk analyses and audits at our production units.

All Metsä Board’s production units have certified ISO 9001 quality systems and ISO 14001 environmental management systems in place, as well as a PEFC™ and FSC® certified chain of custody system that enables the amount of certified wood in our products to be reliably verified. Our certified quality and environmental systems are integrated with the chain of custody system which allows us to track and control the origin of all the wood we use. In addition, a certified OHSAS 18001 occupational and product safety system is in place at all Metsä Board’s production units.

All our production units have also introduced the certified Energy Efficiency System (EES), which serves as a systematic management tool for reducing energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions, and all our units are certified according to the ISO 50 001 Energy management system.

At an operational level, Metsä Board’s production units continuously carry out small scale investment projects designed to upgrade their production facilities and to reduce environmental loads and environmental risks at our mills. These upgrades have focused on making more efficient use of raw materials, water and energy, as well as on reducing emissions.

Mitigating climate change

At Metsä Board, we work hard to mitigate climate change. We focus on developing our operations in order to further reduce fossil carbon dioxide emissions and to improve our energy efficiency. As part of these efforts, we have recently launched several investments.

During the period 2009–2018 Metsä Board’s fossil carbon dioxide emissions have decreased by 48%. We will continue cutting our fossil-based CO2 emissions in line with Metsä Group’s 2030 objective to have fossil-free mills by 2030. 

Our climate change mitigation efforts have been recognised by CDP which has placed Metsä Board on the Climate A list three years in a row between 2016-2018. This positioning recognises our activities to cut emissions, mitigate climate risks and develop the low-carbon economy.

Climate change related risks and opportunities
Metsä Board carefully considers the climate change related risks and opportunities that may affect the implementation of the company’s strategy and on how short-term and long-term objectives are met. The climate-related risk assessments include current and emerging regulation, technology requirements, market situation, supply chain, reputation risks and physical risks such as temperature changes and water availability. Metsä Board’s operations regularly assess and monitor the risk environment and any changes in it. Identified risks and the means to control them are reported to Board of Directors at least twice a year.

Focus on energy-efficiency and fossil-free energy
We are constantly striving to make our energy consumption as efficient as possible. During the period 2009–2018 Metsä Board’s energy-efficiency has improved by 11.7 %.

Investment in Metsä Board’s pulp mill in Kaskinen is a recent example of Metsä Board's actions to save energy. As of October 2018, the pulp mill in Kaskinen has used a new, more energy-efficient technology for recovering heat from the flue gases generated by its power plant. The new heat exchanger at the mill is first of its kind in Finland. The replacement aims for annual energy savings of around 10,800 megawatt hours. This corresponds to the annual energy consumption of nearly 1,500 single-family homes with four inhabitants. This new type of vacuum tube heat exchanger replaces an old technology based on the use of ribbed pipes. In addition to increasing energy efficiency, the new heat exchanger is intended to resolve corrosion problems related to the old technology.
Energy efficiency improvement 2009–2018
Reduction of fossil CO2 emissions per product tonne 2009-2018
Share of fossil-free energy in primary energy consumption in 2018
As much as 82% of Metsä Board’s primary energy consumption in 2018 was based on fossil-free energy. This was comprised of wood-based energy from black liquor, bark and logging residues (52%), other renewable energy (3%), and nuclear power (27%). Fossil fuels covered 18% of the energy need, and we aim to reduce this stake.

To increase the already high share of bioenergy in Metsä Board’s total energy consumption, we have in the past few years invested in two large renewable energy projects that will partially or fully replace energy derived from fossil-based fuels with renewable energy obtained from biomass. We have completed a turbine investment worth EUR 20 million at Husum Mill in Sweden. This project enables the mill’s electricity self-sufficiency to grow from 30% to over 50%. The heat that creates the steam used to run the turbines is generated mainly from black liquor and bark.

At our Kyro Mill, Metsä Board and our partners invested EUR 50 million in a biomass boiler enabling the mill to radically reduce its use of natural gas. The Kyro investment reduced Metsä Board’s fossil carbon dioxide emissions by some 100,000 tonnes annually. Metsä Board will continue to actively investigate opportunities for further investments in renewable energy in the future.

The entire Metsä Group produces 15% of the renewable energy in Finland. Metsä Board contributes to this stake by its biopower plants that are located at the mill sites in Äänekoski, Kyro, Simpele and Husum.

Sustainable water use

Water is vital for paperboard manufacturing, because water is needed at every stage of production: water keeps logs fresh; it helps to separate wood fibres for the paperboard production process; and it transports the fibres to different stages of the production process. Water is also needed for cleaning, cooling, and in smaller quantities to create steam for thermal energy production.

However, rather than just using the water, it is recycled – the process water flows through the mill’s systems several times. After the use, the process water is cleaned thoroughly before it is returned back into nature. About half of the water is used for cooling machinery. As the cooling water runs in a separate system there's no need to clean it after use.

Given the need for water in manufacturing, all Metsä Board’s mills have been built alongside lakes and rivers. This safeguards a continuous availability of clean water for our processes. Still, our operations do not prevent or weaken any other parties’ access to water, for example agriculture. The whole Finnish forest industry uses only 0.2% of the available water resources in Finland.

Using the rich water resources responsibly

Metsä Board’s mills are located in the Nordic countries which are, according to World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), the world's water richest region. As part of our water risk assessment, all our mills have been evaluated using the Pfister method, and also this water stress index demonstrates that our mills are located in highly water abundant regions.

Nevertheless, we still continuously seek new ways to minimise the use of fresh water in our processes, for instance by recycling our process waters effectively. This minimises our wastewater emissions and saves energy, therefore reducing impacts on the climate. The percentages of recycled and reused water vary from mill to mill, mainly depending on product quality requirements and local water conditions. Our mills have each set their own targets and continuous improvement plans for water use as part of their environmental management systems. Metsä Board has additionally launched a project to calculate the water footprint of our products based on a life cycle assessment.

As an example, Metsä Board’s mill at Simpele, was able to decrease its waste water flow by over 10% during 2017. The main reason for the reduction is a new online water monitoring system which enables efficient separation of clean pump sealing waters from waste waters.

Investment in the new disc filter at Husum paperboard mill in late 2018 will save 30–50 litre water every second and reduce fibre raw material losses by 1000 kg per day. At the same time the investment decreases energy consumption and thus lowers carbon dioxide emissions.

Metsä Board’s sustainable water use is recognised by CDP which has placed our company on the Water A list for four years in a row since 2015.

Water taken from surface waters

In 2018 Metsä Board’s fresh water intake totalled 105.9 million cubic metres. All process water was taken from surface waters such as rivers and lakes. Our process water use per product tonne has decreased by 20% since 2010.

100% of Metsä Board's process water is surface water
Some 99% of the water used in production is returned to waterways after careful purification
Reduction in use of process water per product tonne 2010–2018

Effective wastewater treatment

Our process waters are carefully cleaned before they are released back into rivers, lakes or the sea. Most of our mills operate their own wastewater purification plants. Furthermore, each mill has its own specific environmental and water permits setting strict limits for pollutant concentrations in released wastewater. 99% of the water used in our production processes is returned back to nearby waterways after careful purification.

Resource efficiency

Metsä Board uses materials and resources efficiently, striving to make more out of less. Material efficiency means efficient use of natural resources and efficient reuse of residuals and by-products. We work actively to prevent waste generation by enhancing our recovery processes, by seeking new ways to reuse residuals and by using organic waste to generate energy. 

In many cases the residuals from our processes can be used as valuable raw material elsewhere. In 2018, 98% of Metsä Board’s production waste was utilised: more than 39% of all waste was reused as materials, for example recycled as paper or metal, composted or used for soil improvement; nearly 59 % of waste was incinerated to produce energy; and the remaining stake, less than 2%, was landfilled or treated as hazardous waste.
Share of hazardous waste in 2018
Share of landfill waste in 2018
98% of production waste reused as material or for energy production in 2018