BillerudKorsnäs’ products form part of a sustainable cycle that begins and ends with the forest. We take responsibility for ensuring that the paper we produce from wood fibre is reborn again and again. When the fibres finally reach the end of their life cycle, they are incinerated to produce bioenergy. We then make sure to capture the carbon dioxide generated through this process by planting new trees after felling – allowing our cycle to start all over again.
Our production is based on wood raw material, bioenergy, chemicals and water. The structure of cellulose fibres that wood forms naturally constitutes the basis for all paper and pulp production BillerudKorsnäs purchases wood raw material from responsibly managed forests .
Transport operations account for a significant proportion of the carbon dioxide emissions in the BillerudKorsnäs cycle. In order to minimise these emissions, we strive to reduce transport distances as much as possible. We do so, for example, by working with other forestry companies, buying and selling wood raw material from each other so as to keep the distances involved as short as possible for everyone. Wood is transported to our mills by train, boat and lorry. For obvious reasons, road transport is often the only possible option for the first stretch of the route, i.e. from the forest itself. Thereafter, however, we attempt to freight loads by train, and work with both suppliers and carriers to ensure that the raw material is transported in the most cost-efficient and eco-smart manner possible. For example, we are joint owners of a rail system for long-distance transport operations through Sweden. We are also working to develop transport solutions and planning systems, larger and more efficient vehicles and trains, more eco-friendly fuels, and transport proposals for vessels that reduce emissions.
BillerudKorsnäs also needs access to large volumes of water. At global level, access to fresh water is unevenly distributed, but in Sweden, Finland and the UK – where BillerudKorsnäs operates – supplies of fresh water are readily available. Our mills are located close to major watercourses so that we can utilise the surface water without exerting a significant impact on the flow of the water. We do not use ground water in our operations. After use, the water is cleaned in biological purification installations and then returned to the watercourse.
It is important to differentiate between ‘water use’ and ‘water consumption’. ‘Water use’ refers to the volume of water added to the manufacturing process, i.e. raw water and the water content of raw materials. ‘Water consumption’, on the other hand, refers to the volume of water that evaporates from processes and is taken away in finished products and waste, i.e. water that is not directly available for further use. In BillerudKorsnäs’ operations, ‘water use’ is high, but ‘water consumption’ is low and primarily attributable to evaporation during the drying process and the water content of our finished products.
In 2011, IVL Swedish Environmental Research performed what is known as a ‘Water profile’ (simplified analysis of the impact on water supply and water quality) for the Swedish forestry industry – with excellent results.
RECYCLING WATER – EXAMPLES FRÖVI AND GÄVLE The water that enters the production process is 97–98% surface water from neighbouring watercourses, the rest is from wood and chemicals. The water is used to wash pulp in several stages during manufacture. The paper pulp is moved in a water mixture over to the paperboard machine, where it is further diluted with circulating water to form a suspension, which then consists of almost entirely water. In total, virtually all the process water is recycled and reused. For the company as a whole, this means approximately 147 million m3 water is reused, corresponding to 72% of all water withdrawn.
How many times the process water is used before purification varies between the sites. According to our examples, process water is used an average of more than 30–50 times before being sent for biopurification. Almost all of the water withdrawn is returned to the watercourse from which it was taken. The remaining water is mainly emitted as steam and vapour to the surrounding air, but some remains as moisture content in the products.
Production of pulp, paper and board
BillerudKorsnäs produces paper 24/7, all year round. It is an energy-intensive operation, so we are working continuously to boost the efficiency of our energy consumption and to make sure that the energy we use comes from sustainable sources, with the ultimate aim of becoming non-dependent on fossil fuels. Bark and other residual products that are left over when the wood is chipped and then boiled to produce pulp are used as biofuel for the production process. This is just one example of the work we are doing in this area.
In addition, a large proportion of the chemicals used to convert wood into pulp – known as ‘liquor’ – is processed after boiling so that the chemicals can be reused; this procedure also provides energy for the production process. We have chemical teams at all our facilities to examine all chemicals from the perspectives of health, occupational health and safety, and product safety. All waste classified as ‘hazardous’ is, of course, dealt with by authorised companies, and we work hard to find ways to make our other waste more reusable with a view to sending as little as possible to landfill sites.
Product development itself also plays an important role in the work to streamline our production. By focusing on innovation and optimising our packaging solutions, we are able to make products that reduce resource consumption and allow more efficient logistics. Our aim is to create a circular cycle that is sustainable in the long term and as efficient as possible.
Paper becomes packaging
The paper and board that BillerudKorsnäs produces is sold to packaging manufacturers who shape our materials to create high-quality solutions, including packaging that meets the most stringent hygiene standards for foods, and extremely strong board solutions for packing machine parts. We maintain an ongoing dialogue with our customers to help us better understand how we can provide products and services that match their requirements and help them improve the sustainability of their own value chains and end products. We also have special laboratories where we work with customers to test different types of solutions and find the one that suits them best.
Contents and brand
Packaging solutions made of paper and board are sent to companies that pack them with their final contents. This may involve anything from bags of flour from well-known brands to packaging for transporting car parts and other products used in industry. See the Sustainable innovation and Renewable packaging solutions sections to find out more about how our packaging products are used, and how we work with customers to develop new solutions.
The packaged products subsequently reach the agents who sell them to the end users – via the shelves in your local corner shop, for example. Life cycle assessments reveal that paper packaging is, in principle, a much better option than corresponding plastic packaging from the perspective of the climate. Our analysis from 2016 demonstrates that emissions of greenhouse gases are 45-62% lower for BillerudKorsnäs paper bag.
Comparison of Global Warming Potential (GWP)* between a paper carrier bag from BillerudKorsnäs and a comparable bag made of plastic (HOPE)
*GWP is a factor that refers to how much a given emission of a greenhouse gas contributes to global warming compared to the same emission of carbon dioxide.
As a consumer, you are sure to encounter paper and board from BillerudKorsnäs in numerous everyday situations: in stores, at home, at the pizzeria ... Our aim is to ensure that as a consumer, you have the opportunity to choose products packed in paper-based materials with elevated sustainability, which protect and preserve the contents and allow efficient logistics. We take responsibility for our entire cycle, and we manufacture products that make it as easy as possible for end consumers to recycle them after use.
BillerudKorsnäs’ ambition is to contribute to a society with reduced dependence on fossil fuels and lower climate impact. Fibres can be reused five or six times, which makes recycling in our sector extremely profitable – both financially and from an environmental perspective. We are happy to accept our responsibility as a manufacturer (to make sure that the products we release onto the market are collected and reused) through the Packaging and Newspaper Collection Service (Förpacknings- och tidningsinsamlingen – FTI). But recycling actually begins earlier than that. BillerudKorsnäs applies a cyclical mindset from the development phase itself, and we strive to make products that are as easy as possible to reuse.