Finnish forest industry makes efficient use of its by-products and waste materials

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The Finnish forest industry is developing the utilisation of its by-products and waste materials strongly. The amount of waste sent to landfills has been reduced to a third over fifteen years. Over the same period, the volume of pulp and paper production has increased by about 50%.                                      

By-products and waste are valuable raw materials

The forest industry is one of the best manufacturing branches in the utilisation of various waste types and continues to invest significantly into making its processes more material efficient. The aim is to manufacture products from a lesser amount of resources.

The Finnish pulp and paper industry – one of the biggest pulp and paper producers in the world – creates some 259,000 tonnes of landfill waste annually. Of this, 40% are ashes and 24% green liquor dregs, which are created in the chemical cycles of pulp mills. The forest industry already recycles 85% of its fibre and coating colour sludge, 96% of its wastewater treatment plant sludge and 76% of the deinking waste, which is created in the processing of recovered paper. These are utilised as raw material or in the generation of energy.

Productising waste and enhancing the efficiency of its utilisation are being studied broadly by the forest industry. Research topics include utilising ash in the construction industry and land construction. Ash is a significant raw material for the concrete industry in Central Europe. New treatment and utilisation methods for green liquor dregs are also being studied. At present, green liquor dregs are used in, for example, the surface structures of landfills and to neutralise wastewater.

The utilisation of by-products and waste materials is still a fairly new endeavour and needs to be studied further. In order to reduce the amount of final disposal, it is essential that new possible uses for waste types created in production are examined and that legislation is in place to enable utilisation. In addition, cooperation between different actors in the utilisation chain is required.

The forest industry produces about 80% of Finland’s bioenergy

The cooking chemicals recovered from the black liquor created in pulp manufacturing are reused in the production process. Bioenergy facilities burn wood residues to generate electricity and heat – about a fifth of the energy used in Finland is generated from wood. This is five times more than the EU average, making Finland the clear leader in using wood for energy in industrialised countries.

For more information, please contact:

Fredrik Blomfelt, Senior Advisor, Environment, Finnish Forest Industries Federation
firstname.lastname@forestindustries.fi, tel. +358 40 705 7389