Q: With its updated science-based target, Stora Enso commits to reducing absolute scope 1, 2 and 3 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from operations by 50% by 2030 from the 2019 base-year. What is a Science-Based Target?
A: Targets are considered ‘science-based’ if they are in line with what the latest climate science deems necessary to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. A Science-Based Target (SBT) is a target ambitious enough to mean that by achieving it, a company will be doing its share to keep the global average temperature increase to stay within a temperature level according to the latest science (currently 1.5 according to IPCC). The target has been reviewed and approved by the SBT partners: UN Global Compact, WWF, CDP and World Resources Institute. Stora Enso was the first forest products company to set science-based targets to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2017. We achieved the science-based target nine years ahead of time. In 2021, we raised our ambition to align with a 1.5 degrees scenario.
Q: How will you achieve your ambitious greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction targets?
A: To reach scope 1 and 2 reduction targets, we have Carbon Neutrality Roadmap that is a key tool in our GHG scenario assessment and actions. The Roadmap guides our long- and short-term fossil CO2 reduction actions. We will reduce fossil carbon emissions by investing in further improving the energy efficiency of production processes, and by continuing reduce the use of fossil fuels. Instead, we are targeting to use more clean energy sources, including wood-based biofuels from sustainable sources.
To reach the scope 3 reduction target, we will further improve efficiency and lower carbon intensity with suppliers and logistics. One important tool in implementing and enforcing emission reductions is the Stora Enso Supplier Code of Conduct, which is the common set of requirements for all our suppliers. In the most recent update in 2021, we added requirements on greenhouse gas emission monitoring, reporting and reduction in suppliers’ own operations and their value chain. We will include emission data as a requirement in tenders and as selection criteria.
Q: What is the split by Scope 1, 2 & 3 emissions in your carbon footprint?
A: In 2022, direct emissions from operations (scope 1) accounted for 22% of Stora Enso’s carbon footprint, while emissions related to electricity and heat purchased for use in operations (scope 2) accounted for 2% of the total carbon emissions. An estimated 76% of the emissions in the carbon footprint were generated elsewhere along the value chain.
Q: You are targeting to reduce absolute greenhouse gas emissions from operations by 50% by 2030 from 2019. How much is that in absolute numbers?
A: A reduction of 50% from the 2019 baseline is about 1.4 million tonnes of CO2. Fighting against the climate crisis is about reducing absolute emissions even though we grow, therefore, we set an absolute target.
Q: Why don’t carbon emissions from the burning of biofuels count when you calculate your greenhouse gas emissions?
A: Burning of fossil fuels releases carbon that has been stored underground for millions of years. The carbon released when biofuels are burnt has been absorbed from the atmosphere by trees harvested in sustainably managed forests. Carbon will again be absorbed from the atmosphere as new trees grow replacing the harvested ones. Whenever biogenic carbon is emitted to the atmosphere, there is another forest area which sequesters the same amount without time lag. When forests are sustainably managed, this cycle can continue indefinitely. Our operations utilise renewable biomass fuels from forest and process residuals to a large extent, which means that the proportion of carbon-neutral CO2 emissions in our total emissions is high. In 2022, 87% of the total direct CO2 emissions from our own operations were carbon neutral, originating from biomass fuels.
Q: What is Stora Enso doing to prevent forest biodiversity loss and achieve the target of biodiversity net-positive by 2050?
A: We preserve biodiversity in our own forests and in cooperation with private forest owners through sustainable forest management. Stora Enso has a solid track record of achievements in safeguarding biodiversity in its forests and tree plantations since the 1990s. For example, by pioneering forest certification, restoration and various forest management practices. In 2021, we raised our ambition to safeguard and enhance biodiversity with a new programme together with our customers, academia, environmental organisations, and other partners.
We commit to achieving a net-positive impact on biodiversity in our own forests and plantations by 2050 through active biodiversity management and contributing to processes and standards defining the concept in forestry. Digitalisation, remote sensing technology, and artificial intelligence enable us to take a step forward in the way we operate in the forests, in the wood supply chain and in the protection and restoration of biodiversity.
We have developed and initiated a set of actions for the period until 2030 to improve biodiversity on the species, habitat, and landscape levels. As of 2022, Stora Enso uses science-based indicators to monitor our progress. Based on annual assessments carried out in 2021, Stora Enso reports operational indicators for its wood procurement in Finland, Sweden, and the Baltics. For more information, see Biodiversity indicator reporting.
In practice, the measures include, for example:
Q: What do you mean by sustainable forest management?
A: Sustainable forest and plantation management secures the long-term availability of wood. We ensure that our forests grow more than they are harvested, and that biodiversity is promoted as an integral part of everyday forest management practices. Our biological assets consist of standing trees to be used as raw material in pulp and mechanical wood production. Wood residues are used as biofuels in our own operations.
It also means that we maintain and improve forests biodiversity, productivity, regeneration capacity, vitality, and potential to fulfil, now and in the future, relevant ecological economic and social functions at local, national. and global levels. We know the origin of all the wood we use and 100% comes from sustainable sources. We only harvest in forests where a conservation value assessment has been carried out.
Stora Enso follows its progress in sustainable forestry with a key performance indicator (KPI) that measures the proportion of land in wood production and harvesting owned or leased lands by Stora Enso that is covered by forest certification schemes (FSC/PEFC). The Group’s target is to maintain or be above the high level of 96%. In 2022, coverage amounted to 99%.
Q: You have ambitious biodiversity targets. Is this going to increase your costs and reduce access to wood?
A: Our primary focus is to promote biodiversity development by data-driven planning of our operations. This is achieved through establishing monitoring systems as base for adaptive learning and adding elements of active management for biodiversity into our daily operations as well as in selected set-aside areas. By doing this, we aim to increase the output of biodiversity within the present land use with an increase of some selected and well justified operational costs, but without significant impact on wood availability.
Q: You have set an ambitious goal that, by 2050, all of Stora Enso’s products and solutions will be 100% regenerative. What you do mean by regenerative?
A: Regenerative means renewable products that are circular and help restore the climate (net carbon positive products) and enhance biodiversity. Our goal is to retain the value of the circulating resources, products, parts, and materials by creating a system with innovative materials and business models. Our goal for 2050, is to provide fully transparent and circular products that are recycled and designed to optimise the environmental and societal benefits of the wood and fiber used.
Our focus is on creating value through innovation and partnerships where new products, business models and recycling infrastructure support the development of a circular economy. Wood as a raw material gives us a natural head start: trees grow back in sustainably managed forests that store carbon. We can increase the benefits and access raw materials through product recycling. Wood fiber products are already extensively recycled. The wood fiber can typically be recycled five to seven times, and in some cases over 20 times, continuously storing the carbon. Once fibers get too degraded to recycle, they can be used to make bioenergy.
Q: How will you achieve your target to be 100% recyclable by 2030? What is the share of recyclable products at the moment?
A: Our circular economy target outlines our commitment to transparent and circular material flows that help minimise waste and combat climate change, and that reduce the impact on nature. By the end of 2022, 94% of our products were recyclable. This is based on the technical recyclability of products and their production volumes consolidated as tonnes. Already today, most of our products such as packaging and paper products, are recyclable and many substitute fossil-based materials. Going forward, the performance will be challenged by more granular testing and stricter recyclability specifications.
Stora Enso collaborates with customers and partners to develop new circular solutions and business models to replace fossil-based materials and to cut down on waste along the value chains. Examples include our collaboration with our customer TetraPak to significantly improve recycling capabilities of beverage cartons throughout Central and Eastern Europe and the partnership with Huhtamaki on an industrial scale recycling programme for paper cups in Europe. We will continue to increase focus on circularity in our innovation process, strategy development and key business processes.
Q: You mention that you use Circular Design Guidelines in your product development. Could you elaborate this a bit more?
A: Our Circular Design Guidelines outline our commitment to contribute to a circular bioeconomy through our products and solutions. These principles serve as guidance for all our divisions, whether planning to create new processes and products or to update existing ones. These guidelines will be fully adopted in the innovation and product development processes by 2025. We, at Stora Enso, believe that renewable, recyclable materials made from trees are the way forward for a sustainable future.