According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report, human activities are responsible for emitting greenhouse gases that cause unprecedented, partially irreversible climate change. The magnitude of these changes depends mainly on the possibilities to limit carbon dioxide emissions in the future. Limiting the use of fossil fuels is the most important means of dealing with climate change.
In turn, the UPM is committed to effective actions to combat climate change. The company has ambitiously set a target to reduce its CO2 emissions from fuels and has purchased electricity by 65% from 2015 levels by 2030. This target is endorsed by the Science Based Target (SBTi) initiative and in line with the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit the increase in global temperature to 1.5 degrees.
A new tool is being developed to indicate the energy consumption and CO2 emissions of pulp companies, seeking to achieve the company’s goal of reducing emissions by 65%. The tool helps individual businesses and locations by providing real-time data on their emissions and providing a transparent data reporting system for customers and other interested parties.
CLEAN AND ENERGY-EFFICIENT PRODUCTION
UPM’s pulp mills are modern, extremely energy-efficient facilities that produce plenty of surplus clean energy, mainly from renewable biomass. Most of the energy in pulp production is generated by burning biomass-based black liquor, a by-product of the production process.
In addition, fossil fuels have been replaced with biofuels, and continuously looking for alternatives for the remaining non-renewable fuels. Pulp mills’ share of UPM’s CO2 emissions is around 6%. The surplus bark left over from pulp production is sold to energy producers. The share of renewables of all the energy used in our pulp mills is around 95%.
UPM’s Kari Saari, Senior Manager, Management Systems and Sustainability, says that the technology of pulp mills has become significantly more energy-efficient over the years.
“Previously, for example, the old generation of recovery boilers could not generate enough energy for the entire mill integrate, so a separate power boiler was needed to produce steam energy. Nowadays modern recovery boilers can produce more energy in a higher pressure and temperature with less fuel. All UPM pulp mills sell clean surplus energy to the energy market, which helps to replace electricity generated from fossil sources,” Saari says.
According to Saari, examples of the improving energy efficiency of pulp mills are multiple-effect evaporation for removing water from black liquor, which uses less energy, and the development of more efficient process equipment throughout the fibre line.
All in all UPM’s goal is to improve energy efficiency by 1% every year. Today all UPM pulp mills are certified according to the ISO 50001 energy standard.
TOWARDS A CARBON NEUTRAL SUPPLY CHAIN
Saari notes that emissions can best be affected by wisely selecting partners that share common values with UPM.
“We are currently in discussions, for example, with our main chemical suppliers regarding their emission reduction targets and preparedness for reporting emissions. At the same time, we have an ongoing project with the aim of creating a uniform reporting system for calculating CO2 emissions during the manufacture of a product (cradle to gate),” Saari explains.
Developing a responsible supply chain requires that more and more suppliers are committed to cooperation and reporting their emissions in a commensurate way.
ALTERNATIVES FOR FOSSIL-BASED PRODUCTS
In Saari’s view, pulp meets the fundamental objective of sustainable development – adapting our actions to the environment’s support capacity.
Pulp production is part of the circular economy, where the value of materials is returned to the product cycle. In this regard, Kaukas plant in Lappeenranta is an excellent example: its production residues are used as raw materials, for example, for wood diesel, naphtha, turpentine, pitch and sodium bisulfite.
“Pulp is much more than just a raw material for paper. It really is a material from the future. For example, cellulose is an alternative to the use of plastic in packaging and, among other things” highlights Saari.