Metsä Group has 29 production facilities in seven European countries. Each mill has an environmental permit to determine the boundary conditions for the operation. The environmental permit has typically limit values, for example to emissions to water and air and environmental noise.
Minimising effects on water
The world's water resources are unevenly distributed, and most of the water is in the oceans. Only 3% of the water in the world is fresh water, and is mostly tied up into glaciers or snow. Metsä Group's production is mainly in the Nordic countries, which are, according to WBCSD (World Business Council for Sustainable Development), the world's water richest region.
Given the need for water in the manufacturing of forest products, mills have been built along the lakes and rivers. Although water is used, the Finnish forest industry is a modest user of water: the industry uses only 0.2% of the available water resources Finland. The process water is cleaned thoroughly before returned back into the rivers, lakes or sea. 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.
Minimising the impact of the forest industry operations extends beyond the mills. We want to preserve the valuable natural waters in the forests. The impact of forestry on water is minimised using a variety of methods – for example, forest certification requires buffer zones. Forests are vital to the water cycle, since they maintain the balance between precipitation and evaporation as well as improve the quality of groundwater by reducing the absorption of surface runoff into groundwater. In the Boreal region, evaporation happens mostly in forests. Forests also do not need to watering, as, for example, in Finland it rains 600–700 millimetres per year.
Metsä Group is not resting on its laurels when it comes to resource efficiency and water. Metsä Group has set a Group-wide target to reduce the use of process water per product tonne by 17% from the 2010 level by 2020. By the end of 2017, water use had reduced by 15%. The target will be achieved both through investments, such as in new technology, and by streamlining and optimising the processes.
Read Case about the use of water at the mills
Reducing emissions is the fight against climate change
As part of resource efficiency, Metsä Group's main means of combating climate change are to increase the share of bioenergy and improve energy efficiency. We have reduced fossil CO₂ emissions per product tonne by 38% from the 2009 level. The set target was to reduce emissions by 30% by 2020 and it was achieved in 2013.
During the recent years, Metsä Group has invested in significant renewable energy projects which have increased the share of renewable energy in our operations. 23 out of 29 Metsä Group's production sites have bioboilers and renewable energy production at the site, and 88% of the fuels used by Metsä Group are wood-based biofuels. Metsä Group produces 15% of Finland's renewable energy.
The energy efficiency of Metsä Group's mills has improved by 7% from the 2009 level. The target set for improving the energy efficiency is 10% by the year 2020. To improve energy efficiency, we are looking for ways to reduce heat and electricity consumption. Most of the energy is used at the mills for example in manufacturing high-yield pulp, pumping, and drying pulp, board and paper. That is why energy efficiency is dependent on the fluency and continuity of production.