ESG targets in Metsä Fibre’s daily operations: Part E – Environmental sustainability guides all our operations

Metsä Fibre's operations are based on the sustainable use of raw materials and resource-efficient production.
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  • 2023, Sustainability

As part of Metsä Group, Metsä Fibre is committed to safeguarding biodiversity, mitigating climate change and making efficient use of natural resources on the way to a low-carbon society.

To mitigate climate change, our aim is for our production to have zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2030, when we will use only fossil-free fuels. We also intend to transition to fossil-free alternatives in all our raw materials and packaging materials. All the Metsä Fibre mills have clear plans for achieving these goals.

Metsä Fibre’s Äänekoski bioproduct mill and the new Kemi bioproduct mill use no fossil fuels in their operations. Joutseno pulp mill is also fossil free during normal operations. In 2022, 96 per cent of all the fuel used in production was fossil free consisting mainly of wood-based production side streams.

“Our raw material, Nordic wood, is fossil free, and so is nearly all our packaging. The only exception is plastic-based sawn timber wrappings, for which we’re seeking a more sustainable solution,” says Kaija Pehu-Lehtonen, SVP, Business Development, who is in charge of strategic sustainability targets at Metsä Fibre.

Metsä Group also aims to increase the amount of carbon stored in its products by 30 per cent by 2030. Metsä Fibre is Finland’s largest sawn timber producer and our sawmills support the achievement of this target.

Resource efficiency improves environmental friendliness

Resource efficiency means using natural resources as efficiently as possible. Metsä Fibre’s goal is to fully use all the wood raw material it procures. At the mills, resource efficiency essentially means using water and energy more efficiently and utilising process waste.

“We strive to lower our water consumption per tonne by 35 per cent from 2018. Reducing water consumption is a key development target at each of our pulp mills, and our roadmap will help us achieve the target. The new Kemi bioproduct mill is a major step towards this goal,” says Pehu-Lehtonen. She points out that no water is used in production at the company’s sawmills.

In energy efficiency, the goal is for an improvement of ten units. This will be achieved by using electricity, heat and fuel more efficiently. In terms of electrical energy, all of Metsä Fibre’s pulp and bioproduct mills generate more than they use. They are among Finland’s largest producers of renewable energy.

“By making our production more efficient, we can supply even more electricity to the national grid.”

One important resource efficiency target is to avoid any process waste being sent to landfills. At Metsä Fibre, everything else can be utilised except for green liquor dregs, for which a lasting use is still being sought. Together with several partners, the company is conducting development work in this field.

Every member of personnel contributes to the targets

In Metsä Fibre’s daily operations, all individuals, groups and production units have their own sustainability targets that promote Metsä Group's targets. In turn, each target has specific indicators used to monitor progress.

Environmental targets are easier to achieve and energy efficiency remains at a high level when production runs uninterrupted.

“Of course, we always aim higher. We engage in systematic development work and analyse ways to optimise our processes. Our personnel play an important role in identifying and pointing to improvements in the process and their own work,” says Pehu-Lehtonen.

Safeguarding the biodiversity of forests

Because raw material is at the core of everything, both Metsä Group and Metsä Fibre aim to promote sustainable forest management. Various measures have been adopted to boost biodiversity, such as increasing the amount of decaying wood and diversifying tree species.

“Safeguarding forest biodiversity is closely linked to raw material procurement. We purchase all our wood raw material from Metsä Group’s wood supply organisation, Metsä Forest, which is committed to the same environmental targets as we,” says Marko Ruottinen, Metsä Fibre’s Sustainability Manager.

Other group-wide forest targets include increasing carbon sinks. Well-managed forests grow faster and store more carbon dioxide. Forest management targets are monitored by measuring forest regeneration, young stand management, forest fertilisation and peatland forest regeneration.

In early 2023, Metsä Group revised its 2030 sustainability targets. In line with the ESG criteria for sustainable business, the targets are divided into three categories: Environmental, Social and Governance.

For global companies and investors, ESG considerations are an essential part of decision making. ESG reporting is used to assess the sustainability and ethical impact of a company’s operations.

This is one of a series of three articles in which we describe what the ESG targets mean for Metsä Fibre’s production, operations and customers.