Water

We operate in water-rich areas and use water sustainably and efficiently. We only use surface water in our operations. All the process water we discharge is thoroughly purified before being returned to nature.

All Metsä Board mills are close to lakes or rivers because water is needed at all stages of the paperboard production process: to keep the logs fresh, to help separate wood fibres and to transport them between the different production steps. It is also needed for cleaning, cooling and, in smaller quantities, to produce steam for thermal energy production.

As our mills are located in water-rich areas in Finland and Sweden, no water is taken from areas that are classed as being under high or extremely high water stress according to the World Resource Institute’s Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas. Our activities do not impair the availability of water to other parties, such as residents or agriculture.

We use abundant water resources wisely

Our water consumption is very low compared to the volume of water we use: 99% is returned to water bodies after use and 1% either evaporates into the air during the production process or is bound to our products.

We constantly strive to optimise water use in our processes and increase the efficiency of process water recycling to reduce our use of raw water. This helps us to minimise the amount of water that needs to be heated and reduce wastewater volumes, saving energy and reducing the climate impact of our production. In recognition of our sustainable water use, Metsä Board has been included in CDP’s Climate A list for six years between 2015–2021.

Our aim is to reduce the use of process water by 30% per tonne produced in 2018–2030. To achieve our target, we have defined mill-specific measures which improve water recycling and reduce the amount of raw water we take from natural sources. Our Husum integrated mill accounts for about 40% of the water we use, which is why the renewal of the Husum pulp mill will significantly reduce our water use.

Improving water use efficiency saves energy and thus reduces the climate impact of our production.

We thoroughly purify our wastewater

After use, process water is thoroughly purified before being returned to nature. Because the cooling water we use flows in its own closed circuit, it always stays clean.

All our mills have environmental permits issued by the authorities, which define maximum limits for discharges into water bodies and set requirements for the monitoring of discharges and reporting on them. Every mill has a wastewater treatment plant, owned and operated by Metsä Board or one of our partners, where wastewater is treated mechanically and chemically, and in most mills also biologically.

The key indicators to be monitored are the volume of nutrient emissions with an impact on eutrophication (phosphorus and nitrogen), the volume of suspended solids, the biological and chemical oxygen demand (BOD, COD) attributable to organic material and the chlorine-containing AOX compounds arising from bleaching of chemical pulp. Our mills’ impact on water bodies is typically low compared to the diffuse pollution caused by agriculture, forestry and scattered settlements. In Finland, for example, only about 3–4% of nutrient discharges are attributable to the pulp and paper industry (Finnish Forest Industries Federation).

99% of the water used in production is returned to water bodies.