Always on our agenda - reducing our impact on the environment

We constantly look for solutions to minimise the environmental impact of our operations when selecting raw materials, energy sources, production methods or developing new products and processes.

​Knowing our environmental impact

All UPM’s operations impact the environment both directly and indirectly: Forest management influences landscape, forest structure and biodiversity. Production processes release emissions into watercourses and into the air. Solid waste is generated at the production facilities and noise and odour need to be managed. Indirect impacts arise mainly from transportation and the procurement of raw materials, chemicals, fuels and power.

Lighter environmental footprint

Our target is to reduce the environmental footprint of our operations and products throughout the lifecycle; from raw material sourcing, production, delivery and product use, to the recycling and reuse of the products. At the mill sites, special emphasis is placed on the environmental aspects of  air, water, energy, waste and local phenomena such as noise or odour.

An overview about key environmental aspects and their environmental impact and UPM’s measures can be seen in the following table:

​Key environmental aspectMain environmental impact​​Measures
​Wood raw materials
  • ​Use of the forest ecosystem (biodiversity, products and
    services from forest ecosystems, land use aspects); Indirect environmental impact by chemical pulp suppliers.
  • ​Use of wood from certifi ed sustainable forestry (chain-of-custody verifi cation); assessment of chemical pulp suppliers.
  • ​Indirect environmental impact by suppliers; pollution due to
    inappropriate handling or storage.
  • ​Supplier audits; requirement for certified environmental management systems; choice of environmentally sound products.
​Fossil fuels
  • ​Use of finite resources; climate change.
  • ​Co-generation of heat and power; maximise use of renewable fuels; effi cient energy use.
​Airborne emissions from power plants
  • ​Acidifi cation of the soil (NOX, SO2); air pollution (particles); climate change (from CO2 from fossil fuels).
  • ​Compliance with limit values*); continuous improvement; use of renewable fuels and natural gas; emission trading.
​Emissions to water
  • ​Eutrophication (nitrogen, phosphorus); oxygen demand
    (COD, BOD); adsorbable organic compounds (AOX) for
    chemical pulp mills.
  • ​Compliance with limit values*); continuous improvement;
    modern elementary chlorine-free chemical pulp production.
​Solid waste to landfills
  • ​Use of landfi ll sites and municipal waste incineration plants.
  • Increase or maintain high recovery quota.​
  • ​Adverse effects on personnel and local area.
  • Compliance with limit values*); continuous improvement.​
  • ​Adverse effects on local area.
  • ​Optimised operation of production facilities and effluent treatment plants.
  • ​Indirect environmental impact (energy consumption;
    airborne emissions; noise).
  • Use of appropriate means of transport; dual-purpose
    transport; electric fork lift trucks.​
  • ​Environmentally sound disposal after use.
  • ​Recycling (recovered paper processing).
  • ​Acidification of the soil by airborne and water emissions; risk of pollution by landfill sites or by chemicals and oilcontaining equipment.
  • ​Best practices for the storage and handling of chemicals; compliance with landfill permits and legislation (landfill insulation; gas collection and treatment, leachate water
​ ​ ​* The purpose of limits for waste water load, airborne emissions and noise specified in the operation permits is to prevent any significant environmental impact.

Integrated management systems enable continuous improvement

The mills’ integrated, certified management systems, which include quality management, environmental protection and health and safety issues, are the practical tools used for environmental management. These systems embrace the principles of continuous improvement by target setting and monitoring of the implementation.

The Chain of Custody system for monitoring the origin of wood is also part of the mills’ integrated management systems.

Environment is everyone’s issue

The mills are responsible for ensuring that external obligations are met and that targets established internally are reached. The mills’ environmental managers or management appointee act as experts and handle practical aspects, development, co-ordination of environmental matters and reporting. The Vice President, UPM Environment and Responsibility, is responsible for Group-wide environmental issues.

Environmental issues are part of the day-to-day work of the entire personnel. Environmental competence is essential and respective training is organised with, for example, regular training for chemical handling, safety and risk management or general introduction for new employees.

Making progress by setting environmental targets

Environmental management is based on continuous identification of the environmental impact of the operations. Environmental impacts are a starting point for annual target-setting and development of detailed environmental programmes with measures, schedules and responsibilities. Implementation of targets is monitored regularly.

In addition to the specific targets outlined by the individual mills, the Group sets common long-term goals that apply to all sites, such as increasing the proportion of certified wood, decreasing water consumption and increasing the reuse of waste. 

Clean Run supports environmental performance and awareness

Clean Run aims to lessen the environmental impact of all UPM operations.
The goal is to significantly improve the current level of environmental performance and awareness, including better risk management.

The campaign has been visible in the pulp and paper mills since 2011, and has become a proactive way of managing environmental operations at mills. Systematic reporting and follow-up of environmental deviations, including reporting of environmental observations, are in active use at all pulp and paper mills. Company-wide guidelines for producing reports according to five defined categories have been implemented. The five categories range from 1 (minor) to 5 (serious).

Together with improved information sharing, Clean Run audits have helped to identify development issues and related best practices. With all of the actions taken, the “Clean Run Way of Thinking” has become part of daily routines. 

Management of environmental risks

All mills take specific actions to prevent environmental hazards. Environmental risk assessments are carried out to identify potential risks. The most significant risks at the pulp and paper mills relate to process malfunctions and to the transportation, storage and handling of chemicals at the mills.

The results of the risk assessments are documented at the mills. This data is updated, if any changes are made to the process.

In the event of accidents or emergencies, the mills take precautions to prevent or mitigate the harmful environmental impact. Most mill sites have their own fire department or fire crews who are trained in such a way that they are also able to intervene in cases of chemical accidents.

June 8, 2017

Trash becomes treasure through nutrient recycling

Instead of polluting the Baltic Sea, nutrients could be put to work in biological effluent treatment. UPM is among the frontrunners switching to recycled nutrients in its wastewater processing.

May 2, 2017

UPM Fray Bentos pulp mill does not impact on Uruguay River

The recent report by CARU (Comisión Administradora del Río Uruguay) confirms that the UPM Fray Bentos mill fulfils the strictest environmental criteria and the operation of the pulp mill does not have an impact on the Uruguay River. CARU published its monitoring results in November 2016, corresponding to 50 inspections carried out since 2011.