“The focus is now clearly on sustainability issues and it will stay there. We’re also seeing that our customers’ interest and expertise in sustainability is constantly increasing,” says Iggesund Paperboard’s Sustainability Director Johan Granås.
The subsidiary of the Swedish forest industry group Holmen has invested more than EUR 380 million to increase its energy efficiency and reduce the fossil emissions from its production. In 2019, Iggesund Paperboard’s two paperboard mills, at Iggesund, Sweden and Workington, England, both reported advances in reducing their climate impact and water consumption, on top of fantastic safety work all year.
In particular, the Workington Mill achieved a production record for its Incada board in 2019 while also making it through the entire year without a single hour’s absence due to a work-related lost-time injury (LTI).
“The mill’s fantastic and systematic work to improve its work environment and safety over many years has definitely paid off! Workington’s zero LTI result for 2019 is an inspiration and role model for all our workplaces,” Granås says, visibly impressed.
Getting rid of fossil fuels
Thanks to significant investments in the transition of its energy systems from fossil fuels to biomass, Iggesund Paperboard mill’s were operated on over 90 per cent bioenergy in 2019. The group’s mills can thereby produce packaging paperboard with very low fossil carbon dioxide emissions.
“Our long-term goal is to be totally fossil free, and we’ve come a long way,” Granås says.
In 2019, the Iggesund mill in Sweden managed to reduce its energy consumption by approximately 90 GWh, which is equivalent to the energy consumption of 3,500 detached houses. All in all, the mill produced Invercote by using 98.6 per cent bioenergy, leading to a significant reduction of its carbon dioxide emissions.
Furthermore, during the past year, the Iggesund mill has worked to make its energy operators aware that some of their decisions also impact the climate, and has encouraged them to include those aspects in their set targets.
“We’ve always said that it’s not the big machines that make the paperboard, it’s the people. And we’ve also applied that approach to the issue of greenhouse gases,” Johan Granås explains. “We’re incredibly proud of the commitment our employees are showing to these issues! We’ve held trainings to raise awareness, and of course the climate debate of recent years has also sharpened the focus on these issues,” he continues.
Of course, as the goal of 100% bioenergy becomes closer, it becomes more difficult to further reduce fossil fuel emissions. “But there’s only one way forward for us and that’s straight ahead,” says Johan Granås.
However, the climate footprint of paperboard is not solely due to the mills. Transport has thus become an increasingly important sustainability issue for Iggesund Paperboard.
According to the company, the dramatic reduction of carbon emissions in the production process of Invercote and Incada has paradoxically led to increase the relative weight of transport in the paperboard’s climate footprint. Some customers of the group in both Asia and America therefore wonder how shipping paperboard from Sweden to Japan or the USA can be a good choice in climate terms.
“Our calculations show that this is currently the case, but as other mills shift to using more bioenergy, we must reduce our own transport emissions to preserve our lead,” Granås explains. He adds that Iggesund Paperboard is working closely with its logistics suppliers to find alternative transport solutions that further reduce emissions.
Going further in saving water
When it comes to water consumption, extensive projects are being implemented at both mills. Last year, Iggesund Mill reduced its water usage by about 10 per cent but Granås says the company is not yet satisfied. “We can still do more at Iggesund Mill to lessen our water consumption. The fact that historically our water usage has been relatively high is no doubt because for over 100 years our production has never been disrupted by any water shortage. We’re fortunate to be in a location with excellent water resources.”
Reducing water consumption of Iggesund Paperboard’s paperboard mills is now one of the group’s main goals for the year 2020 as a whole.
“During 2020 we will do more work on our key areas of sustainability – health, climate and water – so that we can continue to live up to the market’s high sustainability demands,” Johan Granås promises.