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Story | 06/20/2017 08:53:00

Social responsibility integrated in local environmental reporting

UPM is improving the way it communicates the social responsibility of its pulp and paper mills at the community level. Besides the usual environmental figures, the company is also including the societal impacts that its businesses are creating locally in the EMAS reports.

UPM is piloting a new EMAS reporting approach aimed at increasing the transparency of its social responsibility communication. There are four sites participating in the pilot: UPM Changshu paper mill in China, UPM Nordland paper mill in Germany, UPM Kaukas pulp and paper mill in Finland and UPM Fray Bentos pulp mill in Uruguay.

“Communicating corporate responsibility issues has become an even more important subject locally. Therefore, we wanted to create a responsibility report that provides comprehensive information for our large group of stakeholders, including local authorities, people living close to the mills and also our own employees,” describes Environmental Manager Minna Maunus-Tiihonen from UPM Kaukas.

“In addition to the environmental figures, we want to describe in our new review what kind of economic and societal benefits our operations generate at the mill locations,” she adds.

There are five different mills operating at the Kaukas integrated mill site: pulp and paper mill, a biorefinery, a sawmill and a biofuel power plant. Kaukas is using some 5 million cubic meters of wood — about one quarter of all wood that UPM purchases in Finland each year.

There are approximately 1,000 permanent employees working at the mill. In addition, the mill indirectly creates some 2,600 jobs in the Lappeenranta region.

“Wood purchasing indirectly creates jobs in private logging services and logistics, as well as other professional positions in forestry. In addition, the wood trading profits stay in the area as we are trying to buy our wood raw material as locally as possible, within 200 km from the site,” Katja Tiikasalo, Stakeholder Relations Manager, says.

“During the summer, we have around 160 seasonal employees. We are also offering on-the-job learning positions for vocational college students in order to provide them work experience in the process industry and help them progress their careers,” she continues.

According to the 2016 EMAS report, the tax footprint of the Kaukas mill site in the region is remarkable. Accounting for municipal tax of personnel wages, municipal share of corporation tax, real estate tax and the estimated effect of indirect employment for example, the annual benefits in the Lappeenranta municipality are up to EUR 31–34 million.

Collaboration with stakeholders

EMAS (The European Community Eco-Management and Audit Scheme) is a voluntary environmental management system designed for the companies to manage and communicate the direct and indirect environmental impacts of their operations, products and services.

UPM has participated in the system over 20 years. “For us EMAS is an important communication tool. Nowadays people want to have more precise information about societal impacts, so the new report is an excellent initiative in this area,” says Gabriele Wende, Director of Environment and Responsibility.

Wende emphases that with transparent communication, UPM aims to have good relations both with people living near the mill and with the local authorities and other stakeholders.

“In Germany, many traditional mills are located near cities. Many of our employees also live close to the mills so people in the neighbourhood are very familiar with the operation of the mill. That is why the EMAS report is also an excellent internal communication tool for our own personnel.”

The report is also an excellent way for the UPM mills to share best practices and examples of how they are cooperating with local stakeholders. For example, UPM Changshu and UPM Nordland mills use their EMAS reports to emphasise the occupational health and safety issues as well as cooperation on sustainable development with local schools. In Uruguay, UPM Fray Bentos has included UPM Foundation’s achievements on improving the quality and accessibility of local education in its report.

Youth interest in the environment

Tiikasalo confirms that local schools and educational institutions are important local stakeholder groups for the corporation. Children and young people are very well-informed and interested in environmental issues.

“Clean water is an important subject for us. Currently, we are managing a ‘local waters’ project together with schools to encourage young people to get interested in environmental issues, especially water-based research.

“As a part of the project, we have donated equipment for water quality research to the schools. Through the project we hope to encourage them to consider how they can improve the water quality by their own choices.”

UPM Kaukas actively supports schools and institutions and other local associations and communities. The mill organises the UPM Kaukas Forum every year for local political leaders and decision makers, organises open days to provide more information about the mill and welcomes dozens of student groups to visit the mill during the school year.

The Kaukas mill has excellent cooperation with different stakeholders. “The latest figures of the EMAS report rate the environmental performance of Kaukas mill very highly, describing the societal impacts of our operations. We are really proud to present these impressive results,” Tiikasalo concludes.


Vesa Puoskari

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