Varkaus mill

Efficient resource use

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Ensuring greater reuse of materials with less waste

Climate change and resource scarcity affect the environment and societies as a whole, and the growing population continues to increase the pressure to maximise efficient use of raw materials. Circularity of materials is a key success factor for navigating sustainable profitable growth within the planetary boundaries.

Minimising waste and optimising resource efficiency

The raw materials Stora Enso uses are largely renewable: wood, starch, recycled board and paper, and purchased pulp and paper. In 2023, 97% of our total process material use was renewable. This enables circular material flows and places us at the heart of circular economy.
Our production processes create side-streams such as ash, sludge, chips and wood residues. We strive to utilise these side-streams to the fullest extent possible to create maximum value from materials and to innovate for new renewable solutions. Side streams are mainly used in energy production, pulp manufacturing, and wood pellet manufacturing.
We also continuously explore the potential to use refined wastewater residues in new bio-based products, such as bioplastics and hydrogen gas from biosludge, or utilising sludge as a soil improver instead of using it for energy production. This helps to control agricultural nutrient emissions into waters and enhances carbon sequestration in fields.
At some of our sites, ash is spread on forest land, and thereby compensating for the removal of nutrients occurring from biomass removal. This secures our long-term production capacity and prevents acidification.
Together with our partners, we continue to look for new possibilities to increase value from existing material side-streams. As an example, lignin, one of our renewable by-products from pulp production, can be further processed to replace coal-mined graphite as anode material in batteries.
Only a very small fraction of our materials ends up as waste to landfill, and our aim is to reduce it as close to zero as technically and commercially possible. 

Waste and residuals management

We apply precautionary management actions to mitigate and remedy potential adverse impacts on environment.  Local environmental stewardship at the mills, including water and energy management and resource efficiency, is supported by third-party ISO 14001-certified environmental management systems. This ensures continuous improvements in the most prioritised environmental issues, including remediation when necessary. All Stora Enso’s sawmills, corrugated packaging units, and board, pulp and paper mills are certified to the ISO 14001 environmental management system. 

Goals and key actions

Our target is to maintain process residuals utilisation rate level of at least 98%. 

Key actions

  1. Reuse and recycling of materials to minimise waste and to ensure efficient use of resources

  2. Maximising the value of materials streams through circular material flows

  3. Converting material side-streams, such as lignin, to new circular products

  4. Partnering across the value chain for the beneficial use of process residuals

For more details on how we manage materials, residuals and waste, and our recent performance, see our annual report.

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