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On the road to net positive – it’s all about the actions behind the words

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Looking back at 2021, it was quite a dynamic year. Our business in the containerboards grew at a rapid pace driven by the exponential growth of e-commerce, fuelled by the pandemic, and combined with the push to replace plastic packaging with renewable, recyclable solutions.

That said, with growth there’s added responsibility, both in terms of the commitments being made towards mitigating the climate change and in the actions being taken to fulfill those commitments.

I’m very proud that at Stora Enso we have a holistic approach to sustainability that’s driven not only by bold commitments but also by science-based targets and action-oriented behavior, i.e. “walking the talk”. This is personally very important to me, and will be also increasingly important across the whole industry as we go further, being fact-based and transparent.

As a society, we need to reduce our reliance on fossil-based materials. We all need to strive towards operating and staying within the planetary boundaries. However, there is a lot of greenwashing going on in the world, and we know that only ‘talk’ does not solve the problem. I am happy that as a company, we’ve recently committed to new updated science-based targets. In concrete terms, we have committed to reducing Scope 1 & 2 greenhouse gas emissions from our own operations and reducing Scope 3 emissions from our value chain by 50% by 2030. All this means that we look forward to continuous work internally, with our customers, our suppliers, and all our partners for ultimately reaching our net positive goal set for 2050.

Case in point, the latest conversion of our mill in Oulu from its past life as a papermill to a state-of-the-art mill for producing kraftliner - the raw material for corrugated boxes, is a good example. As part of our recent EUR 350 million investment, EUR 40 million was directed to enhance the environmental performance of the site, and this is now visible at the carbon footprint of the products of the mill – in fact, we’re getting a 60% lower cradle to gate carbon footprint compared with the European average for kraftliner –a concrete example of how we “walk the talk”.

We are continuously taking bold steps with our customers to ensure both the reduction, and even replacement, of plastic in many packaging applications. In the containerboard business unit, with our wide product portfolio ranging from virgin-based to recycled materials, we offer excellent choices for plastic replacement to the market. Did you know that from one truckload of trees coming from thinnings you can make four reels of kraftliner in Oulu which can be used to manufacture half a million pieces of corrugated berry boxes - replacing some 4500 kg of plastics that would go into equivalent amount of traditional plastic boxes.

We also recently published our upcoming EUR 23 million investment into our Varkaus containerboard mill in Finland - targeting to increase flexibility and capacity in Varkaus during 2022. The investment will also enable us to use more recycled fiber in the future, in addition to fresh wood fiber. Driving and enabling the recycling of paperboard packaging products is a key sustainability goal and investments to recycling capacity are a concrete way to support this goal.

These investments are a few examples of the “walk the talk” that will take us towards the greater goal – of having 100% renewable products that are fully in line with the circular economy and that are net climate positive by 2050.

Financing the transformation – and setting transparent goals

No sustainability plan is complete without the commitment from the whole company, and at Stora Enso our finance team is right at the helm of our corporate sustainability agenda - taking environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations into account when making decisions and linking financing directly to our sustainability targets.

Just one example is the recent signing of a new €700million revolving credit facility (RCF) agreement with a syndicate of 12 banks, where the pricing mechanism is directly linked to our science-based climate targets. A great way to connect our sustainability performance to our financing, enabling us to continue to execute our business strategy, and another great example of our holistic approach where the whole company “walks the talk”. Simple as that and a solid motivator for action, don’t you think?

Like said previously, we all know that we need to do our part to reduce climate impact and to ensure that we strive towards operating and staying within the planetary boundaries, whilst securing economic and social progress.

On our joint mission to combat global warming and to minimise waste, a holistic “walk the talk” approach, including full transparency and fact-based target setting, is a must. Let us not be misled by greenwashing, but rather aim and demand for transparent communication and facts on this critical mission.


Henna Pääkkönen
SVP, Business Unit Containerboard

Henna Pääkkönen

Henna has been raised with Stora Enso since 1996, currently working as SVP Head of the Containerboard Business Unit in Packaging Materials Division. Henna is an experienced industry leader with a broad international experience of 25 years from various roles in sales, business management, innovation, and controlling. Henna is a strong believer that trees can be a big part of a more sustainable future, one less dependent on fossil fuels and supporting a circular bioeconomy, making this planet a better place to live. Henna has an MBA, and an M.Sc. in Packaging Technology.
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