Yesterday’s waste is today’s raw material

We have developed innovative ways to reduce our own waste or residues and to be able to reuse them in smart new products – we see yesterday’s waste as today’s valuable raw material.

​The circular way of thinking

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. 

Inspired by reducing and reusing waste 

Reducing the amount of solid waste and increasing reuse are key objectives at all of our mills.

Nearly all organic production residues, including bark and wood residues, as well as fibre-containing solids from deinking and effluent treatment, are used in energy generation at mill sites. Today, approximately 89% of UPM’s production waste is reused or recycled.

UPM is the world’s largest user of recovered paper for the production of graphic paper, consuming 2.6 million tonnes of recovered paper in 2017. 

At UPM, one third of all fibre used in our paper production is recycled fibre.

Waste streams at UPM mills include the following:

​Main waste fractions​Source​Usage or disposal
  • ​Power plants
  • ​Most of the ash utilized in earth work operations, as a fertilizer or in the cement and brick industry
  • Only a small fraction is taken to landfills
Organic process waste such as bark and fibre residues and fibre sludge
  • ​Wood and recovered paper
    processing, effluent treatment
  • ​Mainly used as fuel by mill power plants
  • Fibrous residues which are not incinerated are reused, for example, composted or used in soil improvement and earth work
​Other process waste such as coating colour waste and green liquor dregs
  • ​Coating of paper, chemical pulping
  • ​Large proportion reused, e.g. in the construction industry and in soil improvement
  • The rest is mainly landfilled
Other solid waste
  • ​Recovered paper processing, label production, packaging of incoming materials (mainly metal, board or plastic waste)
  • ​Sorted and utilized as a raw material whenever possible, e.g. UPM Profi
  • Non-usable waste fractions taken to landfill sites or municipal waste incineration plants
Hazardous wastes​
  • ​Maintenance (mainly oil or oil
    contaminated equipment)
  • ​Forwarded to licensed hazardous waste treatment facilities
  • Compliance with relevant statutory requirements
SEPT 23 2016

Wood-based side streams efficiently utilised in energy production at UPM

The different wood-based waste side streams from UPM mills are already well utilised in energy production in the mills’ own boilers. The recycling of wood to energy presents a challenge only when the wood waste is moist and contains particles of metal or stone. UPM is now developing the methods in which these side streams are handled as the company reaches for a Zero Solid Waste to Landfill status in all its operations first in Finland and globally by 2030.

Waste management aims at effective reuse

All UPM’s mills make efforts to reduce the volume of solid waste and to improve handling by sorting the waste at source.

A large part of the process waste is utilised either as raw material or in energy generation. The volume of solid waste taken to landfill sites has decreased significantly over the past years as a result of higher efficiency in production processes and increased opportunities for reuse. UPM is constantly developing new reuse opportunities.

Developing the utilisation of by-products and waste plays an important role in waste management at all UPM sites. By-products and waste can be valuable as raw materials or a source of energy.

However, not all waste can be re-used. If no re-use option can be found, residual solid waste has to be disposed of, e.g. at landfills operated by the mills themselves or by external operators. Landfill sites for depositing solid waste account for the most significant environmental impact in waste management. All UPM-owned landfills, both closed and in use, are being monitored for environmental impact in accordance with permits and regulations issued by the relevant authorities.

Ash resulting from bioenergy production forms the most significant proportion of UPM’s solid waste. Ash is used on a large scale in applications ranging from landscaping to road building. In 2017, 96% of ash was reused. 

The plywood and timber mills make efficient use of raw materials. We utilise wood by-products such as bark, sawdust and woodchips for pulp, chipboard, cardboard and energy generation. The amount of landfill waste created is marginal. 

The volume of solid waste taken to landfill sites from UPM pulp and paper mills has decreased significantly over the past years as a result of higher efficiency in production processes and increased opportunities for reuse. We utilise major parts of the production waste as raw materials or in energy generation. 

May 11, 2017

UPM ProFi celebrates 10 years as a circular pioneer

Celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, UPM ProFi demonstrates how the circular economy works in practice by producing new, innovative materials and products from recycled side streams.

July 17, 2017

Zero Solid Waste project continues – No more solid waste to landfills from UPM Plywood and UPM Timber in Finland

UPM Plywood and UPM Timber in Finland are the first businesses to have reached the tight recycling target set by the Zero Solid Waste project. The company aims to send zero waste to landfill operations globally by 2030.