The Sofidel Group was founded in 1966 by two Italian families, the Stefanis and the Lazzareschis. Today the company is one of the largest producers of paper for hygienic and domestic uses in the world. Its collaboration with Metsä Fibre goes back to the mid-1990s.
Sofidel’s Wood Pulp Sourcing Director Andrea Piazzolla says co-operation is not just about business but also a shared vision of what fossil-free operations, sustainability and respect for the environment are and should be.
“The pulp market in Europe is a very concentrated one. Pulp suppliers all offer sound quality, excellent time-to-market, after-market services and similar pricing structures. So, when it comes to competitiveness, we prefer suppliers that have a clear and systematic approach to all things environmental. We expect our partners to have a feasible roadmap for their future progress towards matters like fossil fuel free production," he says.
Global reach is important
When Sofidel and Metsä Fibre first started collaborating, the two companies were, of course, very different from what they are now. Metsä Group’s pulp production and pulp mills in Finland were then run by Metsä Botnia. Sofidel was gearing up its growth, but it was still very much a family-centred business.
“Business relationships were very close, and the human touch was extremely important in all negotiations. Of course, when both companies grew, there were changes. Now Metsä Fibre is one of our key suppliers.”
In Piazzolla’s view, Metsä Fibre’s global reach is an important asset. Sofidel has operations in 13 countries worldwide and is in the middle of growing large-scale operations in the United States, so only those suppliers that can handle global logistics and timely deliveries are viable.
Sustainability at the core
Asked about Sofidel’s most important strategic goals, Piazzolla mentions integrity, respect for the environment and the planet, and taking care of people and their hygiene needs.
“We started investing in cutting emissions and stopping deforestation before it became a trend and before there was money to be made from it. Sofidel’s sustainable growth strategy is completely in line with building an inclusive, sustainable and resilient future for people and the planet, as stated in the UN's sustainable development goals for 2030.”
In 2008, Sofidel joined the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as a member. Over the years, the partnership has led to several joint marketing and communications projects. The company also collaborates with the Global Compact of the United Nations and International Red Cross and other charitable organisations.
Metsä Fibre recognised for excellence
In 2015 Sofidel launched its own Sofidel Suppliers’ Sustainability Award to recognize excellence in its partners’ operations and to further incentivise them to adopt sustainable ways of doing business.
Thanks to Metsä Fibre’s Äänekoski bioproduct mill project, which was ongoing in 2015, Sofidel recognised the company for its efforts to become increasingly fossil-free.
In 2022, Metsä Fibre received the award for the second time, and was selected as the Best Supplier in 2021. Among the criteria were anti-corruption, decarbonization, approach to market and environmental performance.
“We aim to further diminish our production-based emissions for scope 1 and 2. For 2030 the goal is to cut CO2 emissions for each tonne of paper produced, to be 40 per cent lower than in 2018. We expect our suppliers to follow a similar roadmap as well,” Piazzolla says.
“I believe that in the future our business relationship with Metsä Fibre will further expand.”
This article was originally published in Fibre Magazine issue 2022–2023.