Biogas from paper production becomes reality

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Published 28 April 2021 by Randel Wells
The liquid biogas plant at Stora Enso’s Nymölla mill in Sweden is complete. Built in partnership with Gasum, this a significant step towards a fossil-free future that is turning heads and raising hopes. As climate change awareness increases, companies such as Canon seek products that match their sustainability requirements.

The new liquid biogas plant at Nymölla mill was inaugurated on April 27th , 2021, a major milestone in the mill’s long history as a sustainable operation. The plant is the culmination of a successful partnership with energy company Gasum that changes the game for Stora Enso, customers and consumer alike. 

Instead of going to water treatment ponds, the mill’s process water will be diverted to the LGB facility co-located at the mill. There it is used to feed microbes that produce biogas which is collected and cooled to liquid form. 

“I’ve been in this industry for a long time,” remarks Jonathan Bakewell, VP, Office Papers, Stora Enso Paper Division. “If anyone had told me we could make liquid biogas out of process water, I would have said I am more likely to get Brad Pitt’s looks and Steve Job’s brains!” 

Powering buses and trucks to run more sustainably 

Before the biogas setup, the inherent value in the process water was ending at the bottom of ponds. Now it can power a bus around the world every day of the year. In addition to reducing heavy vehicle carbon emissions by 90 per cent compared diesel, LBG produces far fewer particulates, lowering vehicle impact on air quality. 

“I couldn’t have imagined this either,” adds Jeroen de Groot, Director, International Sales & Business Development EMEA at Canon. “I have a lot of respect for people that can turn a dream into an actual working production process.” 

Although for Stora Enso and Gasum the biogas story at Nymölla is well known, the news is reaching new ears all the time. It’s a timely message, as climate change becomes a climate emergency. 

Customer queries about environmental impact have been growing exponentially for Stora Enso. The discussions have moved on from materials and processes to addressing the big picture of sustainability, how to reduce impact on the planet and achieve circularity. 

“For Canon, an end-to-end approach to sustainability is essential,” confirms de Groot. “We evaluate every element in the entire value chain, so a good integral performance in all aspects of sustainability is what adds most value for us.” 

“Our own customers may just have a specific requirement, like FSC certification. Others have a complete sustainability strategy of their own and seek products that help them achieve their strategic goals.”  

Climate awareness is rising  

While the Covid-19 pandemic delayed the biogas project, it has also raised climate awareness, as de Groot explains: “The pandemic initiated another wave of digitalisation driven by remote working. This impacts paper consumption, but also increases customers’ awareness of what they are buying. They want better, more sustainable products.” 

To mark this boost in sustainability, Stora Enso is introducing a new biogas logo and motto: “wood – paper – biogas, for a fossil-free future.” First to get the logo is the Multicopy product line, with other paper ranges to follow. The biogas logo will also be available for customers to add to their own branded packaging. 

Completion of the LBG plant with Gasum is positive news for a planet in desperate need of sustainable solutions for a fossil-free future. 

Gasum truck at Nymölla Mill filling up

Gasum truck filling up with LBG at the Nymölla plant

Multicopy home pageStora Enso Paper

In focus

Jeroen de Groot

“I have a lot of respect for people that can turn a dream into an actual working production process.”

- Jeroen de Groot

Jonathan Bakewell
Jonathan Bakewell

Take a virtual tour of the biogas plant!