Towards a circular bio-based Europe

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The world’s consumption of valuable resources is reaching its limits and we need to make a giant leap towards a circular economy.

The current linear system (take-make-waste) is no longer working for businesses, for people or for the environment. The linear economy must change in order for the world to reach a sustainable balance. This change is needed at all levels of society: both individuals and industries alike. 

A circular economy is an irreversible, global megatrend that presents many opportunities to take action.  We can, for example, scale up activities at both an EU and global level, close the loop and reap the benefits. The EU Commission is committed to continuing the implementation of the Circular Economy Action Plan. The Plan was adopted in 2015 to give a renewed boost to jobs, growth and investment and to develop a carbon--neutral, resource-efficient and competitive economy.

Low-carbon, climate-resilient circular economy on the agenda at the European Days for Sustainable Circular Economy event 

The European Days for Sustainable Circular Economy event, which is being held from 30 September to 1 October in Helsinki, is the key circular economy event in Finland during the country’s  Presidency of the Council of the EU. The event will focus on promoting a low-carbon, climate-resilient circular economy and on showcasing European success stories and partnerships across different industries and organizations. 

The forestry sector plays a significant role in the bio-based industries in developing novel materials to replace fossil-based materials. Sustainably-managed forests and circular economy principles have been the cornerstones of the modern forestry industry for a long time, and we strongly support the development of a circular, bio-based Europe. 

National- and EU-level public funding plays an essential part in the implementation of a circular economy. It is of utmost importance to ensure funding for the Horizon Europe programme. The EU Commission's proposal for Horizon Europe is an ambitious EUR 100 billion research and innovation programme, to succeed Horizon 2020.

Resource efficiency and eco-design innovation are at the core of UPM’s Biofore strategy.  We aim to efficiently utilize all raw materials and side streams generated by our processes and to produce renewable and recyclable products. We believe that every process stream has its value and that through optimization, we can eliminate the term “waste”.

An excellent example of this is crude tall oil, a by-product of chemical pulp production. Tall oil is used as a raw material at our Lappeenranta biorefinery in South-east Finland to produce UPM BioVerno, renewable diesel and naphtha. Diesel is used in vehicles as a low-emission fuel, while naphtha can be used, for example, as a drop-in chemical to produce renewable plastics. 

Bio-based UPM BioVerno naphtha has been integrated as a wood-based layer in milk cartons to replace fossil-based material.  This cross-industry co-creation project saw UPM, Dow Chemical Company, Elopak and Arla work together in partnership.

Another excellent waste utilization example is the ash generated in our various bio-boilers. Ash products are used in several applications, such as to replace non-renewable minerals in the cement industry, in earth construction and in paper filler production. The traditional end use of ash as fertilizer returns the nutrients back to the forest.

Is there a sustainable solution to utilize green liquor dregs? 

Our circular economy journey continues and one of our responsibility targets is to eliminate the sending of solid waste to landfill by 2030. The toughest challenges require collaboration, co-creation and an innovative mindset. We have achieved 90 % of our solid waste target, but there is still room for improvement. For example, we are looking for innovative partners to find a sustainable solution for our green liquor dregs. 

We believe that a circular economy can help tackle the overuse of resources and mitigate climate change. The transfer from a linear to a circular economy requires mutually agreed and harmonized principles, guidelines and terminology; we are therefore participating in ISO standardization work relating to the circular economy.  

You will meet UPMers at our stand at the European Days for Sustainable Circular Economy event! We will be happy to tell you more about our ground-breaking circular economy solutions.


Source: UPM