Sustainable bioeconomy makes circular economy happen

Sustainable and resource-efficient bioeconomy enables circular economy


Metsä Group manufactures products from renewable wood from the northern forests that replace the use of fossil raw materials. We manage and grow our forests sustainably and by caring of the nature values. We use raw materials, water and energy resource-wisely and produce renewable energy from our production side streams. This is sustainable and resource efficient bioeconomy, where Metsä Group is a forerunner.

In bioeconomy, renewable resources are processed into products that replace the use of fossil raw materials. In circular economy, the renewable products are kept in circulation for as long as possible – and by reusing and re-utilising maintaining the value of the raw material. In circular economy, the manufacturing and consumption of products also generate as little loss and waste as possible, making production resource-efficient.

The importance of resource efficiency will become more pronounced in the future as population grow and competition from natural resources, energy and water becomes more intense. In circular economy, the resource-efficient manufacture and use of bioproducts reduces the amount of waste and allows the recycling of materials and holds their value.

A resource-wise bioeconomy in the circular economy is possible when we use every tree to the full to maximise the added value of the products. In Metsä Group, every production side stream is valuable and nothing goes to waste.

Circular economy forms the base for our operations

In 2017, Metsä Group procured 32 million cubic metres of wood of which we used about 23 million cubic metres for manufacturing products.
In 2017, we manufactured 1.9 million cubic metres of sawn timber.
In 2017, we manufactured 0.5 million cubic metres of plywood and Kerto LVL.

In 2017, we manufactured 1.8 million tonnes of paperboard.

In 2017, we manufactured about 0.6 million tonnes of tissue and cooking papers.
In 2017, we manufactured 3.8 million tonnes of pulp.
In 2017, we produced about 24 TWh renewable energy of which we used 21 TWh in our own production. The rest was delivered to the society.
Our aim is to utilise wood raw material as efficiently as possible and every side stream generated in our production is important. 92% of Metsä Group's production side streams are utilised as material or energy.
Production side streams are used for manufacturing biochemicals such as tall oil and turpentine. Our partners refine these further to be used for example in paints.
We develop new technolgies for producing pulp-based textiles in cooperation with our partners.
Our partner uses pulp in the manufacturing of biocomposites.
In Europe, 81% of packaging is recycled. In tissue papers, recycled fibres are a good rawmaterial. However, fresh fibres enable recycling, fibres can be used on average 3.5 times.
Wooden building store carbon during their whole life cycle.

Circular economy needs fresh fibres


Bio and circular economy use fresh fibres

Our partner network plays an important role when utilising the side streams in the best possible way. Cooperation with small and industrial partners is key to creating efficient ecosystems as part of a sustainable  bioeconomy and circular economy. Resource efficiency and a broad network of partners make it possible to produce wood products for a variety of end uses: wood products, pulp for board, papers, textiles, composite materials for the electronics industry, and raw materials for paints, tyres, perfumes, agriculture fertilisers and many more.

In 2017, Metsä Group started up a new next-generation bioproduct mill in Äänekoski, whose industrial ecosystem enables using wood in a more resource-efficient way. Small and medium-sized companies in the network are of the ecosystem and circular economy, and thus create added value.

Wood from sustainably managed forests is a renewable raw material, and products made from it can almost always be recycled. To guarantee product safety, for example, food packaging requires fresh fibre whose origin and purity of the production process are always known. Fresh fibre packaging should be recycled.

Although wood fibre can be reused, it cannot be circulated endlessly. In Europe, wood fibres are currently used at an average of 3.5 times. However, every time the fibre is used, it is cut shorter and the quality characteristics deteriorate. Therefore, it is necessary to get fresh fibres from sustainably managed forests to the circulation. Utilising fresh fibre ensures the availability of recovered fibre. If no fresh fibre entered the fibre circulation, it would immediately result in a shortage of recycled fibre. It can therefore be said that fresh fibres allow recycling.

Let’s use the wood for future bioproducts

Higher-value-added uses for Northern wood

The slow-growing wood from the north are one of the most diverse raw materials in the world. To the different parts of the tree, new, higher-value-added uses can be found through product development projects. If wood is directed directly to energy production or fuel refining, its valuable special properties will remain untapped and future bioproducts are not invented.

Reducing traffic emissions is a big challenge where resource efficient new technology solutions need to be found – refining stemwood for fuel is not a resource-wise and cost-effective way to reduce traffic emissions. Even if the whole European annual forest biomass growth would be refined into fuels, only a third of the current demand for transport fuel would be covered. And in this case, there would not be enough wood to be refined resource-wisely and for promoting bio- and circular economy.

Processing the wood for recyclable or carbon-storing products also creates the most well-being locally, nationally and internationally. Therefore, the unlimited end-use and product development possibilities of wood should be directed towards the promotion of bioeconomy and circular economy.

Metsä Group uses every part of a tree for the purpose that it is best suited to and that provides the highest value. One tree is used for making many different products: sawn timber, plywood and Kerto LVL; pulp, paperboard, paper and bioproducts; as well as renewable energy from the production side streams. Wood-based products are also used in the food industry for concentrate, for example, in juices and ice creams.

Sustainable bioeconomy starts from the forest

Values guide Metsä Group's operations 

Wise use of forests secures bioeconomy

In Finland, the rational use of forests is an important part of when promoting sustainable bioeconomy. The forests in Finland are sustainably managed, which means that today, wood is growing in our forests more than ever. The future of forestry is safeguarded by taking into account the nature values already at the planning stage of logging and by renewing the forest always after harvesting – in accordance with the voluntary forest certification schemes and the Finnish forest law.

After the start-up of Metsä Group’s bioproduct mill in Äänekoski in the autumn of 2017, Finnish pulpwood will be in full economical use. However, the sustainable use of other parts of the tree, such as logs and branches and tops, may be increased.

Natural growth of the bioeconomy is also the best way to increase renewable energy, as the forest industry produces today about 2/3 of Finland's renewable energy. Metsä Group produces 15% of Finland's renewable energy efficiently from production side streams.