Among tough competition, success comes to companies who are able to leverage raw materials, energy and water efficiently, says UPM’s President and CEO Jussi Pesonen.
UPM intends to remain one of the sector’s pioneers in resource efficiency, Jussi Pesonen says.
UPM has long history of improving material efficiency. In recent years, however, the company has paid even more attention to its raw material, energy and water consumption.
Efficient utilisation of resources is a core principle of UPM’s Biofore strategy. “Wood is an important raw material to us, and we want to ensure we use our renewable raw materials, energy and water efficiently. What we use, we use efficiently and responsibly,” CEO Jussi Pesonen says.
According to Pesonen, international research indicates that listed companies who have managed to improve their utilisation of raw materials, energy and water achieve better than average results in stock index comparisons.
“For companies it is becoming increasingly critical to be cost efficient to do well in a competitive market.”
Pesonen points out that over the last decade UPM has been able to achieve significant savings in the consumption of energy and water, and in decreasing the quantities of waste produced.
“As an example, UPM’s paper mills have cut down their use of water by a third, and their electricity by 10%. Likewise, the amount of waste taken to landfills has fallen by 65%.”
The added benefit of these actions is that, in addition to being environmentally friendly, they also bring cost savings.
“UPM’s production plants use substantial amounts of energy, and energy is expensive. The company has saved millions of euros through various energy-saving and research programmes and internal energy efficiency campaigns,” adds Pesonen.
Energy from biomass
Another factor benefiting the environment is that the energy used by UPM is mostly generated from biomass. In Finland, its proportion is 84%, and 67% in the rest of the world.
Pesonen explains that recent years have seen major changes in the development of sustainable forestry and in monitoring the origins of timber.
“This means that 80% of the wood we use today originates from certified forests.”
UPM’S efforts to improve energy efficiency proceed as intensively as before. UPM also aims to reduce the quantity of solid landfill waste by 40%, and the quantity of waste water by 15% by 2020.
“We will continue to look for versatile and innovative ways to utilise every fibre of the wood biomass we use as raw material,” he emphasises.
UPM has developed many energy-efficient production technology and logistics innovations in recent years. The principle of resource efficiency has also led to innovations involving the replacement of non-renewable materials with renewable ones.
“Fibre-related activities will continue to be a core business area at UPM in the future. In the long run, current business activities will be complemented by innovatively engineered products.”
Products made of by-products
Many new products are made of by-products and waste generated during normal production processes. One example of UPM’s new innovative products is the new wood-based renewable diesel UPM BioVerno. Other products worth mentioning are UPM ProFi and UPM Formi composite products, and Cinerit, a new building material made of fly ash that is generated as a by-product of biomass burning.
“Our research and development programmes and development of business activities aim to produce new technologies and products. New growth opportunities are created by biofuels, biocomposites and biochemicals, for example.”
Pesonen believes that the demand for products made of renewable raw materials is going to gather momentum in the next 10 years. Many sectors are busily looking for sustainable alternatives that can help to cut down the use of non-renewable materials such as plastics. Pesonen thinks there will also be demand for new characteristics associated with these products, such as lightness or strength.
“This trend is about resource efficiency, too. UPM is well positioned for success in this world.”
Text Matti Remes
Photography Mikael Lindén, Jukka Rapo, UPM