Metsä Group is a forerunner in the circular bioeconomy

In the circular economy, flows of material, energy, information and value are optimised across the board. This enables us to achieve more with a smaller volume of natural resources.

Metsä Group converts renewable wood from northern forests into a wide range of products, many of which replace fossil-based alternatives. The wood comes from forests that are managed and grown sustainably, fostering nature values.

In the circular economy, raw materials are kept in the cycle for as long as possible. They are also kept as valuable as possible, waste and emissions are minimised, and nature’s capacity for renewal is ensured. The bioeconomy is a circular economy based on renewable raw materials. Forest molecules emerge from sustainable natural processes, during which they sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The circular economy is more than ramped-up waste management

The goal of the circular economy is to use resources optimally from the entire system’s perspective. Ideally, the circular economy mirrors natural systems and lives in harmony with them. Like nature, it has the ability to recover and renew itself. Reinforcing industrial symbioses and investing in cleaner process technology are practical examples of the circular economy. Metsä Group is a forerunner in the bio-based circular economy.

Metsä Group makes full use of every tree

Of all the production side streams, more than 90% are now utilised, and the goal is to increase this to 100% by 2030. Cooperation with our customers and partners lies at the core of all our operations. We want the whole to be more than the sum of its parts, in both value creation and environmental benefits.

Forest

Sustainable bioeconomy originates in the forest

We ensure that our forest management, wood supply and all other forest-related activities are sustainable. The forests in which we operate grow more than they are used. We ensure we do not cause deforestation: on regeneration felling sites, we plant four seedlings for each tree we harvest. We invest in forest renewal and in safeguarding biodiversity, and comply with sustainable forest management practices in all our wood supply operations. 

See also our Ecological sustainability progamme and Nature management programme

Wood from northern forests is one of the world’s most versatile raw materials

Different parts of the tree are used for different products. The log provides material for sawn timber, plywood and Kerto products, while log side streams, including branches and bark, are converted into other bioproducts such as pulp, paperboard, tissue papers and renewable energy.

The extractives from wood give us turpentine and tall oil, which are used to make valuable raw materials for the chemical industry and the food and feed industry. Metsä Group uses every part of the tree for the most suitable purpose.

Many wood-based products such as paperboard are recyclable. For example, the recycling rate of paper and paperboard packages exceeds 80 per cent in Europe. Wood fibre can be recycled multiple times, and recycled fibre is a valuable raw material. However, fibre cannot be recycled for ever, and it does not offer environmental benefits in every application, so the production and use of fresh fibre also play a key role. For example, one toilet paper roll made from fresh fibre requires 40 per cent less raw material than a roll made from recycled fibre. The use of fresh fibre can also save energy and water, because fresh fibre does not require as many processing stages as recycled fibre.

Circular economy

Climate benefits, innovations and cooperation

A wood-based circular economy has definite positive climate impacts. Climate efforts are being carried out on many fronts, through carbon sinks and storage, as well as by replacing products made of fossil-based raw materials. An average wooden apartment block of 1,400 m2 binds 340,000 kg of carbon dioxide, stored in the tree during its growth. An equivalent amount of carbon dioxide is released when driving 2.16 kilometres in a passenger car.

Much of our production runs on renewable energy

We make smart and efficient use of resources such as wood raw material, energy, water and chemicals. Some of our production plants generate more renewable energy than they need, and this surplus is supplied to society.

Wood fibre

Replacing the use of fossil resources

We are carrying out research and development projects to identify new purposes for different parts of the tree that offer higher added value and environmental benefits. Our partner network plays an important role in this. For example, our bioproduct mill in Äänekoski offers a unique ecosystem and platform for cooperation and is also home to Metsä Spring’s demo plants. One of them produces textile fibre from pulp, and the other began to produce 3D fibre packaging in early 2022. The textile fibre plant has partnered with Itochu Corporation, and the 3D fibre packaging plant with Valmet. Textiles and packaging made of wood-based raw materials replace fossil-based synthetic fibres and plastic.

See also Metsä Spring

Replacing the use of fossil resources