Life cycle assessment and carbon footprint
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, and with the help of good packaging design and initiatives to promote recycling, our goal is for our products to be recycled.
At Metsä Board we follow the environmental impact of all our paperboards with life cycle assessments prepared in accordance with the ISO 14040 and ISO 14044 standards. Some of the most common impact categories considered in a life cycle assessment are global warming potential (GWP), water use, acidification, eutrophication and primary energy consumption. 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. At its best, the carbon footprint of packaging made from our fresh fibre paperboard is currently more than 50% smaller than that of packaging of an equivalent stiffness made from recycled fibre or solid bleached board (Ecoinvent database).
An Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) transparently reports comparable and third-party verified LCA results. Metsä Board has published verified EPDs for some of the products and will continue this work.
The carbon footprint of our products will become even smaller as we move towards 100% fossil free energy use in our production processes.
The results of a life cycle assessment (LCA) 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.
A product’s carbon footprint describes the fossil carbon dioxide emissions over its life cycle. Metsä Board's carbon footprint calculation is extensive and based on the Confederation of European Paper Industries Ten Toes methodology. 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.