The evolving forest industry generates success from the bioeconomy thanks to, for example, a sustainably managed forest economy. The sector produces ecologically sustainable products from renewable and recyclable raw materials all the while decreasing environmental emissions. In 2012, forest industry companies agreed on environmental and responsibility commitments according to which the sector voluntarily commits to developing the various areas of its operations by 2020. The various commitments take into account the forest industry’s responsibility for society, the environment, and natural resources.
Forest industry companies report on their environmental impact annually, and the industry monitors the progress made with the 2020 commitments. Well managed environmental and responsibility affairs are a crucial competitive factor for the Finnish forest industry.
Use of certified wood and waste utilisation well on track
The progress report published in summer 2015 states that 85 per cent of the wood used by the forest industry in Finland in 2014 was certified. The percentage of certified forests has increased favourably, but many factors beyond the forest industry companies also influence the procurement of certified wood. Keeping the share of certified wood at such a high level requires, for example, safeguarding the coverage of regional group certification. The forest industry aims to keep the share of certified wood and fibre at a minimum of 80 per cent.
Significant strides have also been made in reducing the volume of landfill waste. In 2014, the forest industry produced 35 per cent less landfill waste than in 2011. The objective is to reduce landfill waste by at least 30 per cent by 2020. The volume of waste was reduced by, for example, new recycling destinations and the increased utilisation of organic waste in energy production. Well over 90 per cent of the forest industry’s side streams are used either as a material or in the production of renewable energy.
The forest industry is also a frontrunner in increasing the use of renewable energy. In 2014, renewable energy accounted for 84 per cent of the forest industry’s energy production, up from 78 per cent in 2011.
There is still much to do in order to meet the targets set for 2020 in the ten commitments agreed upon in 2012. Chemical oxygen demand (COD), for example, must be reduced by another 7 percentage points per tonne of output by 2020.
Another demanding target is to improve the living conditions of threatened species so that a smaller share of the species, which were identified as being threatened in 2010, is still under threat in 2020. To achieve this goal, voluntary forest protection must be intensified and nature management methods in commercial forests must be expanded. Favourable development has already been seen in the increasing amount of decayed wood in forests.
Other targets for the coming years include promoting responsibility in the supply chain as well as improving co-operation and dialogue between stakeholders in the sector.