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Materials, water, and energy

Opportunities and challenges

Replacing the use of fossil-based resources with renewable raw materials is the foundation for a sustainable bioeconomy. Stora Enso’s products also contribute to a low-carbon circular economy, in which materials are reused and recycled, while waste is minimised, to maximise environmental and financial added value.

The European Commission (EC) has adopted a Circular Economy Package containing proposals for legislation designed to reduce waste, as well as an action plan aiming to optimise product life cycles through recycling and re-use. The benefits of sustainably sourced renewable materials are recognised by the EC, providing great business opportunities for Stora Enso. 

Water plays a central role in Stora Enso’s production, heating, cooling and cleaning processes, and in the generation of the renewable hydroelectricity that Stora Enso purchases. The group’s forests and plantations also need rainwater. Though most of Stora Enso’s production units are located in regions where water is relatively abundant, global water scarcity may still impact the group’s operations in the long term through supply chains, and as controls on pollution, recycling, and water pricing are toughened. At the same time, such developments give Stora Enso opportunities to reduce costs by using water more efficiently.

The EU’s 2020 Climate and Energy Package and 2030 Climate and Energy Framework, currently under revision, map out the way forward for industrial energy. The forthcoming revisions may include changes in the Emissions Trading System and tougher requirements on industrial energy efficiency. An increase in the global demand for biomass can additionally be expected.

Most of Stora Enso’s mills use substantial amounts of biomass in their internal energy production. This renewable energy is generated from by-products and residuals from their own production processes, harvesting residues, recovered wood, and wastes.

Our policies
  • Code of Conduct
  • Supplier Code of Conduct
  • Practical Instructions for Stora Enso’s Suppliers
  • Purchasers’ Instructions
  • Policy on Wood and Fibre Sourcing, and Land Management
  • Statement on Water and Water Use
  • Energy Guidelines.
How we work

The environmental work realised at Stora Enso’s mills, including water and energy management and resource efficiency, is supported by third-party certified environmental management systems. All Stora Enso’s board, pulp, and paper mills are certified to the ISO 14001 environmental management system standard. All Stora Enso´s sawmills and corrugated packaging facilities are certified or are in the process of being certified under ISO 14001. By the end of 2016, 33 of Stora Enso’s production units were certified to the ISO 50001 energy efficiency management system standard (36 in 2015), corresponding to 92% of the group’s total energy consumption in 2016 (90%). In addition, seven units are expected to be certified to the ISO 50001 standard in early 2017.

The emissions generated by Stora Enso’s mills are regulated by the relevant authorities, with limits set through environmental permit processes taking into account local conditions and legislation. 

Stora Enso continuously works to improve resource efficiency by driving material, waste, water, and energy efficiency, and by developing new business opportunities from residuals and by-products. Residuals and by-products are used in internal bioenergy generation and pulp production, or supplied to partners for use in agriculture, brick manufacturing, or road construction, for instance.

While Stora Enso handles relatively large amounts of water, of this water only around 4% is consumed in the production processes and almost 96% is returned to the local environment. Process water is discharged after being purified by Stora Enso’s treatment plants, whereas cooling and other non-contact water can be safely released without treatment.

Stora Enso’s energy supply is managed under long-term contracts, direct market access through energy exchanges, efficient combined heat and power production, and shareholdings in power generation companies such as Pohjolan Voima Oy and Teollisuuden Voima Oy in Finland.

The EU’s Best Available Techniques (BAT) Reference Documents – which include BAT conclusions with limits for effluents and emissions to air, as well as BAT conclusions for large combustion plants – will apply to Stora Enso’s board, pulp, and paper mills in Europe. The related investment needs are being proactively planned as part of group investment processes. These investments fit into the group’s normal CAPEX framework and policy.


During 2016, a review of Stora Enso’s sustainability strategy involved reassessing how the group manages materials, water, and energy.

After reviewing the group’s approach to material efficiency during 2016, Stora Enso has outlined a set of key performance indicators focusing on internal operational efficiency and external factors such as beneficial use and revenues derived from by-products and residuals. Related work will continue in 2017 with the goal of measuring Stora Enso´s progress and contributions towards a low-carbon and resource efficient circular bioeconomy.

In 2016, the group’s revenues derived from residuals and by-products, including tall oil, amounted to EUR 70 million (EUR 83 million in 2015). The utilisation rate for residuals and by-products across the group was 98% (98%), covering internal and external use. 

Stora Enso’s target to reduce chemical oxygen demand (COD) levels in discharged water per saleable tonne of pulp, paper, and board by 7% from the 2007 benchmark level was achieved and completed in 2016, following a reduction of 9% during the year (3% in 2015).

The group’s target to reduce normalised process water discharges by 6% from the 2005 benchmark level was not achieved. In 2016 the reduction was 3% (2% in 2015). Stora Enso will continue to follow this key performance indicator (KPI) as part of the new approach to water and energy efficiency. The group will also introduce total water use at its board, pulp, and paper mills as a new KPI in 2017.

Stora Enso’s group-wide target is to reduce specific electricity and heat consumption per tonne of pulp, paper, and board production by 15% by 2020, compared with the baseline year of 2010. In 2016 this indicator was 4.5% lower than the 2010 benchmark level (4.7% in 2015).

During 2016 Stora Enso introduced a new KPI on the group’s carbon intensity (fossil CO2 emissions per total energy consumption). For more information see the section on Carbon dioxide.

In 2016 the group’s total energy self-sufficiency figure was 63% (64%) and electricity self-sufficiency level 43% (42%). The share of biomass in internal energy production was 82% (82%). Existing contracts and internal electricity generation capacity are estimated to cover around 81% of the group’s electricity needs for the next five years (80%). Energy accounted for 10% of Stora Enso’s variable costs in 2016 (10%).

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