Sustainable packaging

The sustainability of a package is the sum of many things, such as its raw materials and their sourcing, the manufacturing process, and the safety, functionality and recyclability of the finished product.

Currently, a lot of emphasis is being placed on minimizing the carbon footprint of packaging across the entire product lifecycle. Two major factors affect the carbon footprint of paperboard packaging – weight and the energy used in production.

A lower carbon footprint is enabled by:

  1. Light weight: Fresh fibre paperboards are stronger than boards made from recycled fibre, for example. When less fibres are needed to manufacture packaging of the same strength, this results in a lower weight and a lower carbon footprint.
  2. Fossil free energy: Replacing fossil fuels with fossil free energy sources cuts fossil-based greenhouse gas emissions. At Metsä Board, 90% of our total energy consumption is fossil free, with an aim to reach 100% by the end of 2030. This means that the carbon footprint of our lightweight paperboards will become even smaller.

Carbon footprint of a packaging is often minor compared to the footprint of the packed product. By protecting the product inside we can reduce wastage and the climate impact. Eventually, the most important function of packaging is to ensure the safety of a product for consumers. Packaging protects products during transport, prolongs product life and conveys important information about the composition and use of products.

We provide carbon footprint calculations to help compare the climate impact of different paperboard grades or other packaging materials. Read more about our Sustainability Service.

Sustainability in packaging is promoted by

  1. 1

    Tracking the origin of raw materials

    One of our biggest advantages is that the entire wood raw material value chain from forest to board mill via pulp mill is managed by Metsä Group’s various business units. All the wood fibre we use is traceable, and we will continue to improve the traceability of the chemicals and other raw materials we use as well as the materials used to package our end products.

    Our target is that in addition to the origin of wood fibre, we will know the manufacturing country of all our raw materials and packaging materials by the end of 2030. In 2022, we knew the country of manufacture with regard to 97% of the total purchases of our raw materials and packaging materials.

  2. 2

    Aiming for 100% fossil free materials

    Paperboards can reduce or replace the use of plastics in many packaging end uses and the application areas will widen as the properties of paperboards are further developed. Our paperboards are produced primarily from renewable wood fibre, and we aim to use only fossil free raw materials and packaging materials by the end of 2030.

    Therefore, we are actively seeking substitutes for fossil oil-based raw materials such as latex and polyethylene coating and for the plastic used to wrap our products.

    In 2022, fossil free raw materials and packaging materials represented 99% of the volume per dry tonne. In our product development, we pay attention to the smallest details so that our products are safe for both the environment and people. For example, our products do not contain fluorochemicals, genetically modified raw materials or nanotechnology-based substances.

  3. 3

    Focusing on lightweighting and fossil free, resource-efficient production

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

    Lightweight paperboards offer the benefits of heavier grades, such as stiffness, while reducing environmental impact at all stages of a product's life cycle: they require less raw material, energy and water, reduce transport weights and generate less waste. 

  4. 4

    Choosing recyclable packaging materials

    Our paperboard products are designed to be recycled. Ultimately, however, recyclability depends on the local collection and recycling infrastructure available. Metsä Board participates actively in the 4evergreen and European Paper Packaging Alliance communities, which promote the recyclability of fibre-based packaging and food and food service packaging.

    If recycling is not possible, all Metsä Board paperboards, excluding PE-coated grades, can be composted as they have been certified for industrial compostability complying with the DIN EN 13432 and ASTM D6400 standards. In addition, some of our paperboard grades also hold a home compostability certificate according to the NF T 51–800 standard.


  5. 5

    Driving sustainability with good packaging design

    Well-designed packaging reduces environmental impact throughout the value chain. Well-designed packaging means packaging that: is fit for purpose; saves resources; streamlines transportation, storage and shelving; and is easy to recycle or reuse.

    Metsä Board's packaging analysis and design services, in cooperation with our customers, develop innovative, ecological and user-friendly packaging solutions that meet the needs of future consumers.

Fact not fiction - Improving packaging sustainability

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