The world around us is changing rapidly. Increasing demand for resources such as oil, food, water and energy is driven by global population growth, urbanisation and by an expanding middle class in the emerging markets. At the same time, there is steadily growing concern about product safety, which is a common issue for consumers all around the world.
The future thus presents previously unseen opportunities and challenges. In response to these concerns, UPM has created a product stewardship approach focusing on eco-design, product safety and ecolabels.
“Product stewardship is a top priority for UPM. Our approach covers the entire value chain from the procurement of raw materials up to the end products and their lifecycle,” describes Sami Lundgren, Director, Ecolabels and Reporting.
UPM has a strong foothold in the wood processing and biorefining value chain, which it utilises to create new innovative-driven and sustainable businesses and products. The company’s comprehensive product range, reliability and excellent environmental performance are valued also by customers.
Examples of eco-design
UPM systematically integrates environmental aspects into the product design at an early stage of the process. The principle is extended over the product’s whole lifecycle, with the target of reducing its lifelong environmental impacts.
“Eco-design is an important part of our product development. The approach guarantees that the impacts of our raw materials and manufacturing processes throughout the entire value chain are already minimized during the design stage,” emphasises Lundgren.
A great example of forwardthinking eco-design is The Biofore Concept Car, which demonstrates the innovative use of biomaterials in ways previously unseen in the automotive industry.
The majority of car parts traditionally made from plastics are replaced with high-quality, safe and durable biomaterials, UPM Formi and UPM Grada, which significantly improves the overall environmental performance of the car manufacturing process.
In addition, the vehicle runs on UPM’s renewable wood-based diesel, UPM BioVerno. The fuel significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions in comparison with fossil fuels, and it is suitable for all diesel engines.
‘No’ to hazardous chemicals
To minimise hazardous chemicals in all its products, UPM has created The UPM Restricted Chemical Substance List (RSL), which controls the use of roughly 6,000 harmful chemicals. The UPM Restricted Substance List (UPM RSL) was updated in 2013, and the new requirements became valid in 2014.
“We have trained all our relevant sourcing personnel and we have communicated the updated list to UPM’s suppliers. We have also checked their compliance with the renewed list,” says Lundgren.
A good example of a ‘clean’ product is UPM Grada, a thermoformable wood material that is designed for the form pressing industry. While it helps UPM’s customers improve their production efficiency, it is also a safe material containing no harmful compounds.
“UPM Grada has no added formaldehyde or volatile organic content. It is therefore ideal for public and private spaces. Products made of UPM Grada can be safely recycled or burned at the end of their lifecycle.”
Stamp of sustainability
UPM’s progress in ecolabels is proving the success of its approach. Ecolabelled sales are climbing steadily in line with the UPM’s 2020 target, currently standing at 76% in selected businesses.
“We are the world’s largest producer of EU ecolabelled newsprint, graphic and office papers. To also help our customers secure the right to use ecolabels, UPM has participated actively in developing new EU Ecolabel criteria for converted paper products,” says Lundgren.
UPM provides detailed product declarations and environmental data for most of its products, giving customers easy access to any information they might need on the sustainability of the products and supply chain.
To further support its paper customers, UPM created a new Product Safety Profile in 2014. This unique tool ensures that UPM’s customers receive all relevant product safety information in a concise form and from a single source.
The document includes basic facts on product composition, product certificates, regulations related to product compliance and other possible measures taken to ensure that the product is safe.