Circular economy in action


Innovative utilisation of side streams plays an important role at all our sites. Many of our products are made of residues, side streams and waste generated during traditional production processes.


UPM BioVerno renewable diesel and naphtha are produced from crude tall oil, a residue of chemical pulp production

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Closing the loop with renewable plastics

Renewable bio-based plastics offer all the convenience of conventional plastics, but with a greatly reduced carbon footprint.

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Arla to bring 40 million wood-based packages into supermarkets

Arla wants to provide consumers with new opportunities to choose more responsible products. This year, Arla has been the first company in Finland to use renewable wood-based bioplastics in gable top paperboard cartons for milk, yoghurt and cooking products.The tall oil-based raw material is a Finnish innovation by UPM.

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Almost every third Finnish family is recycling more thanks to children – Arla and UPM launch a new game to encourage recycling

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Story of UPM BioVerno diesel – from innovation to final product

See the journey of UPM BioVerno renewable diesel from innovation into real product in UPM Lappeenranta Biorefinery, Finland.


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UPM Raflatac collects label waste from its customers and partners

This waste is recycled using a variety of RafCycle® recycling solutions, including UPM ProFi.

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UPM Raflatac innovates towards circular economy

UPM Raflatac is committed to developing labelling solutions with other industry leaders to support brand owners in eliminating unnecessary plastic packaging and achieving their target of 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable plastic packaging by 2025. Reaching these targets requires the cooperation of players on the whole packaging value chain.

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Tested in a sauna – a vanishingly thin innovation revolutionises labeling for small breweries

UPM Raflatac has developed innovative solutions such as thin film materials, wash-off adhesives and label materials containing recycled content to promote a circular plastics economy.

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The recycled release base paper product family is the first commercial glassine product of its kind

The release base papers used in production are collected from end users and desiliconised in a unique process. The pulp is then reused for papermaking.


UPM ProFi biocomposite utilises the cellulose fibres and plastic polymers generated as manufacturing surplus from self-adhesive label material production

In 2020, 39% of plastic polymers used in UPM ProFi were based on recycled materials, and the percentage will increase in the future.

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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.

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Paper recycling is a good example of the circular economy in action

UPM is one of the world’s leading users of recovered paper in the graphic paper industry. We used 1.8 million tonnes of recovered paper in 2020. Recycled fibre represents 26 % of all the fibre used in our paper production.

Recovered paper is an essential raw material for us. We want to safeguard its availability by co-operating with communities and wastepaper companies. Most paper can be recycled. This includes used newspapers, cardboard, packaging, stationery, direct mail, magazines, catalogues, greeting cards, envelopes and wrapping paper.

Recycling is the most sustainable way to give paper a new life.


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Lignin, a by-product of pulp production, is used in WISA BioBond gluing technology, which is used in plywood manufacturing

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UPM Plywood starts using a new sustainable WISA BioBond gluing technology

UPM Plywood starts using a new sustainable lignin based WISA BioBond gluing technology in plywood manufacturing. In the new technology 50% of the fossil-based phenol has been replaced with lignin obtained as a by product of kraf pulp production.

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Ash from biomass-based energy generation is used in several product applications

Ash can be used in soil stabilisation or in the cement industry, or internally for replacing caustic soda or PCC. In 2020, 92% of our ash was reused.

A good example of our out-of-the-box thinking is our fly ash innovation, Elurit, which can be used during the bleaching stage of the papermaking process to replace caustic soda. Another is Cinerit, a fly ash-based soil stabilisation product. The UPM Schongau paper mill and SMI have together developed a new process for producing precipitated calcium carbonate (PCC) from ash.

Read more about Cinerit (in german)


Ash is a major waste fraction with many possibilities for utilisation

UPM aims for zero waste to landfill by the year 2030 globally and in a matter of years in Finland. After this, no waste will end up in landfills or be burned without energy recovery. Ash is a major form of waste – but there are already many uses available for it.

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A breakthrough in recycling ash

The UPM Schongau paper mill in Germany and on-site partner SMI developed together a new process for producing precipitated calcium carbonate (PCC) from residue ash. The new process is a breakthrough in many ways: it is a new smart way to use residue ash and saves a great amount of energy in the bargain.

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Making ash a recycling opportunity

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Nothing to waste – Pulp production residues and side streams


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The use of recycled nutrients is increasing steadily at UPM’s effluent treatment plants


UPM supports the Baltic Sea Action Group's operations to prevent eutrophication

UPM continues its long-standing co-operation with the Baltic Sea Action Group (BSAG) to prevent eutrophication in the Baltic Sea and in Finnish waters. 

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A delicious meal cooking in the composting plant of Kekkilä for the micro-organisms of UPM Kaukas water treatment plant

From the beginning of 2019 approximately one third of the nutrients used by UPM Kaukas mill integrate’s biological wastewater treatment plant has been replaced by Kekkilä Recycling Joutseno composting plant’s side stream: reject water rich in nitrogen.

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Our state-of-the-art Materials Recovery Facility at UPM Shotton recycles collected household materials

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Zero Solid Waste to Landfill

We aim to become a Zero Solid Waste to Landfill company globally by 2030. This means that UPM will not deposit any process waste at landfill sites, and no process waste will be incinerated without energy recovery.

Ash originating from bioenergy production forms the most significant proportion of our solid waste, with 92% currently being recycled. Our mills generate energy from nearly all organic production residues, including bark and wood residues and fibre-containing solids from deinking and effluent treatment. Most of the fibrous residues that are not incinerated are composted or used in soil construction.

Wherever possible, we avoid landfilling. Over the past few years, we have significantly reduced the volume of solid waste we deposit at landfill sites thanks to increased reuse and higher efficiency in our production processes. We are constantly developing new reuse ideas. Today, 89% of our production waste is reused or recycled.

If there is no re-use option, we dispose of residual solid waste responsibly at landfills operated by our mills or by trusted external operators. The environmental impact of UPM landfill sites is monitored for compliance with permits and regulations issued by the local environmental authorities. We forward hazardous waste, such as oil or oil-contaminated equipment, to licensed hazardous waste treatment facilities in compliance with relevant statutory requirements.


Waste streams at UPM mills include the following

Main waste fractions Source Usage or disposal
Ash Power plants Most of the ash is utilized in earth works, as a fertilizer or in the cement 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 that are not incinerated are reused. For example, they are composted or used in brick industry, soil improvement and earth work.
Other process waste such as coating colour waste and green liquor dregs Coating of paper, chemical pulping A large proportion is reused by the construction industry and in soil improvement.
The rest is mainly landfilled.
Other solid waste Recovered paper prosessing, 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 are taken to landfill sites or municipal waste incineration plants.

Hazardous waste Maintenance (mainly oir or oil contaminated equipment) Forwarded to licensed hazardous waste treatment facilities.
Compliance with relevant statutory requirements