UPM.COM
Story | 05/27/2021 13:55:32

Local support in a global crisis

Face masks and voluntary work offered through our Biofore Share and Care programme have helped to ensure safer everyday life in these exceptional times.

The rocketing demand for face masks due to the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a shortage over spring and summer last year. UPM decided to help the communities where it operates by acquiring half a million masks to be given out to local operators. Each site had the opportunity to choose the recipient of the support.

“Purchasing these masks was an apt decision for the Biofore Share and Care programme, as its overall aim is to support local communities and their vitality. Usually, we give financial support, so this was an exceptional project due to its concrete nature and scale. It was also exceptional due to the fact that the whole company and all its businesses were involved,” says Kaisa Vainikka, Manager for Social Responsibility at UPM.

Biofore Care and Share programme gives support by sponsorships, donations and voluntary work carried out by employees. The focus areas of the programme are reading and learning, engaging with communities, and Beyond fossils initiatives. These areas are in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Group’s 2030 responsibility targets.

The 40,000 face masks given out in autumn to Finnish universities to be used in classes is closely related to the promotion of the programme’s reading and learning focus area. By doing this, we wanted to support students, who are an important stakeholder to us, and to enable them to continue with face-to-face learning in these exceptional circumstances,” Vainikka adds.

Masks were given to hospitals, health centres, schools and homes for the elderly. Masks were also delivered to day-care centres, services for the disabled and other social care and healthcare operators.

Meaningful work

Altogether 35 sites in nine countries gave out face masks to 65 different recipients. A large proportion of the masks were given to hospitals, health centres, schools and homes for the elderly. Masks were also delivered to day-care centres, services for the disabled and other social care and healthcare operators.

COVID-19 support for local communities

Vainikka was enthused to see UPM was not only able to protect its own employees, but also to provide support to the surrounding communities in this wide-spread crisis.

“During the project it also became clear that our own personnel felt this type of support was meaningful to them. It was really important for them to be able to provide concrete help in their local community in the middle of the crisis, and the face mask packages were often delivered to the recipients personally,” says Vainikka.

Long experience in acquisitions from China

A good example of voluntary work within the Share and Care programme was the expertise support, which was offered pro bono by UPM’s Sourcing function to National Emergency Supply Agency in order to help them acquire face masks from China. UPM identified the mask suppliers, audited them, organised a tender and negotiated terms of delivery. The National Emergency Supply Agency themselves then signed the purchase agreements with the suppliers.

“It felt particularly meaningful to be able to provide expertise and knowledge free of charge for the good of the society in this situation. All in all, I feel that this whole project is a good example of how companies can provide support to serve public interest in a crisis like this,” says Vainikka.

Text: Timo Nykänen