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 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.