More with less – development of resource efficiency is part of forest industry operations

The forest industry uses natural resources efficiently and sparingly, minimises the environmental impact of its production and recycles efficiently.

The natural resources employed by the forest industry are mostly local resources such as wood and water. The forest industry carefully utilises the raw materials it procures. Processes have been developed so that more end product than before is created from a smaller amount of raw materials, lessening the environmental impact of manufacturing.

Almost all of the by-products created by the forest industry are utilised in further processing. The wood chips created in conjunction with sawmilling, for example, are used as a raw material for pulp and particleboard. On the other hand, the pulp production process generates electricity and heat as by-products.

Everyone benefits from efficiency

The forest industry has consistently invested in environmental protection. Over the past twenty years, emissions have been substantially reduced. Landfill waste, for example, has been reduced by 93 per cent compared to the early 1990s.

The production process must be managed very carefully to cut emissions to the absolute minimum. The pulp and paper industries strive to use wood, chemicals, pigments, filling agents and water as sparingly as possible. The amount of water used per one tonne of produced paper, for example, has been reduced significantly in recent decades.

Products are also utilised after use

Forest industry products do not turn into waste after they are used. Paper products are recycled or burned. Recovered paper is a vital raw material for the industry and should primarily be used in production, and after it can no longer be recycled it should be used for energy generation.

Wood-based construction waste can also be used for energy production, if dismantled structures cannot be reused.

Competitive industry can invest in efficiency

It is important that resource efficiency policy is based on local perspectives. There is no need for binding EU-level targets or resource taxation. Taxes, for example, on the use of resources would not recognise the efficient use of materials. Instead taxes would penalise resource-efficient companies that use high volumes of resources.

From the Finnish forest industry’s standpoint, resource efficiency policy should be based on:
economic growth as a precondition for bio-based and sustainable investments

  • promoting renewable bio-based, recyclable and climate-friendly raw materials in consumption (e.g. packaging, construction)
  • ensuring a competitive price level for raw materials, which allows efficient material-intensive industries to develop in the EU
  • national objectives where implementation and regulation are also realised at the national level

Committed to continuous improvement

The forest industry’s environmental and corporate responsibility commitments published in spring 2013 are the sector’s pledge on behalf of continuous improvement. The management of the forest industry’s environmental impacts and resource efficiency are among the foci of these commitments. The forest industry’s environmental and corporate responsibility commitments can be viewed in the downloads section.