Resource efficiency is at the core of UPM's Biofore strategy. We aim to use valuable and renewable forest biomass as responsibly and efficiently as possible. The circular economy is a new economic model in which materials and value circulate and added value is generated by services and smart operations.
In the forest industry, the circular economy might sound like nothing more than a new name for the operating model that we have been developing for years. However, on a wider scale, the circular way of thinking creates new business opportunities for us, as it combines environmental and economic targets. We are actively involved in the development of the bioeconomy and in the economic and industrial revolution based on it. Our ecodesign concept that we have incorporated into product and process development is an excellent example of responsible business practices.
UPM is the world’s largest user of recovered paper in the graphic paper industry. UPM maximises resource efficiency and prolongs the lifecycle of its products through recycling.
Efficient paper recycling depends on the local infrastructure for national collection schemes and recovery systems. The recovered paper used by UPM is purchased from Europe, where the most significant suppliers are local municipal authorities, waste management companies and printing houses. UPM aims to optimise the value chain of recovered paper by focusing on local supply close to the mills with minimal costs and environmental impact.
Resource efficiency saves raw materials both during production and at the end of the lifecycle: paper does not generate waste as it can be recycled into a raw material. Paper can be recycled up to six times after its first use, and even after the fibres wear out, they can still be used to generate renewable bioenergy.
UPM has expanded its recycled paper range to include fine and speciality papers, such as office, postal and preprint papers that are made of 100% recovered paper. UPM also received the first EU Ecolabel for newsprint since the criteria were approved in 2012. To meet the criteria, the paper must be produced using at least 70% recovered fibres.
The share of recycled fibre represents one third of all fibre raw materials used in UPM’s paper production.
As Russia currently has no separate, organised system for collecting paper from households for recycling, UPM has participated in an educational project in schools in St Petersburg since 2013. Working in co-operation with a recovered paper collecting company, UPM set up a paper collection system in 250 schools in 2014. The schoolchildren collected over 2000 tonnes of paper in a competition, and the winners visited a paper mill in Finland where the recovered paper is turned into raw material. In 2014, within the framework of the project, a cartoon telling children how new paper is produced from recycled waste was published and distributed to the schools. In 2015, the project was expanded to include Moscow and Petrozavodsk and now about 500 schools are participating in the project.
The UPM Shotton mill in the UK provides a good example of material efficiency and how to utilise raw materials during all phases of their life cycle. The mill’s materials recovery facility sorts mixed materials from households; cardboard, plastics, metal, glass, newspapers and magazines. These materials are all sorted, and UPM subsequently makes use of the recycled fibre from newspapers and magazines. Other materials are sold to neighbouring industries.
Ash resulting from bioenergy production forms the most significant proportion of UPM’s solid waste. Ash is used on a large scale in various applications ranging from landscaping to road building.