Paper profiles and life cycle assessments

We report on the environmental impact of our paperboards using standardised paper profiles and life cycle assessments.

Paper profiles

We communicate product-specific environmental information through voluntary product descriptions known as paper profiles. These profiles describe the composition and key environmental parameters of an individual paperboard product. The parameters are reported as environmental impact per tonne of paperboard produced and are divided into emissions to water and air, landfill waste and consumption of purchased electricity. In addition, the description contains general information about the product, the mill that manufactures it, environmental management, the origin of the wood, the wood species and the management of the chain of origin.

The paper profile is a standardised and uniform method used by manufacturers of paper and paperboard products to communicate the environmental performance of their products. The method has been developed by paper manufacturers, distributors and industry organisations across Europe. The purpose is to provide objective, transparent and comparable information on the key environmental parameters mentioned above. Our paper profiles are always verified by an external third party.

Life cycle assessments (LCA)

The environmental impact of a product is generated over its entire life cycle and is affected by the raw materials, the production process and transport, and by how the product is used, recycled and disposed of.

Our lightweight products, produced resource-efficiently and principally from renewable raw material, meet the needs of the circular economy well. All our paperboards are recyclable depending on the local recycling system. By joint design guidelines and cross-industry collaboration, such as 4evergreen alliance, we support the recyclability or compostability of our products after use.

Some of the most common impact categories considered in a life cycle assessment are climate change, water use, acidification, eutrophication and primary energy consumption.

In the assessment of environmental impact of our paperboards we follow specific product category rules (EPD International PCR 2010:14 Processed paper and paperboard, 3.1). These product category rules are in accordance with the ISO 14040 and ISO 14044 standards. Metsä Board has also published third-party verified Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) for selected paperboard grades and will continue this work.

The results of a life cycle assessment are impacted by the chosen system boundaries and methods: the wider the system boundary, the more environmental impacts are reported. Due to differences in system boundaries and methods, when comparing products manufactured by different companies one must consider not only the analysis results but also the limitations that affect those results, such as which stages of the production chain the life cycle assessment includes.

Reducing the climate impact of packaging

From the perspective of paperboard’s climate impact and carbon footprint, the energy mix used in its production and the lightness of the material are the most relevant factors.

Our studies show that, at its best, the carbon footprint of packaging made from our fresh fibre paperboard is more than 50% smaller than that of packaging of an equivalent stiffness made from recycled fibre or solid bleached board.

The results of our study on the carbon footprint of pharmaceutical packaging have been verified by IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute. Read more on the links below. 

The carbon footprint of our products will become even smaller as we move towards 100% fossil free energy use in our production processes.

Carbon footprints based on Cepi Ten Toes

In addition to the life cycle assessments, Metsä Board calculates carbon footprints of its products based on the Confederation of European Paper Industries (Cepi) Ten Toes methodology. A product’s carbon footprint describes the fossil carbon dioxide emissions over its life cycle. The calculation covers fossil carbon dioxide emissions from  forest management and wood harvesting, the production of other raw materials and fuels, purchased energy, and process fuels for pulp and paperboard production. The calculation also includes all the respective transportation related to raw materials and the amount of biogenic carbon bound to the product.