The by-products of paper and wood products manufacture are already being utilised in many different ways. A good example of this is provided by wood-plastic composites, which are manufactured from paper and plastics that are left unutilised in the value chain of self-adhesive laminate production. Wood-plastic composites will be on display at this year’s World Expo 2010 in Shanghai, where the Finnish pavilion will be clad with modern shingles made out of a wood-plastic composite material.
Waste isn’t garbage – it’s a raw material for new products
The pulp and paper industry has managed to reduce its waste output through substantial increases in the efficiency of materials utilisation. The amount of landfill waste has reduced to a third over the last 15 years while production of pulp and paper has increased 50% in the same time. One-third of the landfill waste produced by the forest industry is made up of ash and one-third of green liquor sludge, which is created in the chemical cycle of pulp making. Utilisation of both these waste fractions is challenging, even though the forest industry has made significant investments into developing opportunities for their use. The most effective way with which to reduce landfill placement of forest industry waste is the improvement of waste utilisation opportunities – also through legislative means such as developing regulations on earthwork and fertilisation.
Slow processing of applications and classifying by-products as waste weaken opportunities for by-product utilisation
The greatest obstacles to the utilisation of by-products have been the slow processing of applications and the tendency to classify by-products as waste. The new Waste Directive will establish substantially better possibilities for the forest industry to productise its waste materials and by-products. Finnish legislation must apply the Directive’s formulations on by-product determination and its end-of-waste criteria.
The Waste Act promotes waste utilisation
The redrafting of the Waste Act must not include new regulations on material efficiency that would curtail corporate raw material utilisation or the optimisation of production processes. The permit application process should also be kept free of such red tape as well as of other waste reduction regulations. Voluntary improvement of material efficiency will steer companies towards optimum materials and by-product utilisation as the role of some by-products is almost as significant to the production process as that of the actual products.
The waste hierarchy, which governs the priority of waste management, should be established flexibly, i.e. in such a way that allows for exceptions on ecological, economic and social grounds. Lifecycle thinking as provided for in the Directive enables the best possible organisation of waste management.
Paper and wood are renewable, clean and recyclable materials, which is why it is so important that the redrafting of the Waste Act strengthens their position.
Tiina Vuoristo, 040-542 5365,