For Suominen, environmental responsibility means efficient utilization of resources with smallest possible impacts on the environment. We continuously strive to reduce the environmental impacts caused by our operations.
The most significant environmental impacts resulting nonwovens production include consumption of water and energy, generation of greenhouse gases, and landfill waste. We regularly follow these consumption and emission levels and have set reduction targets for each of these.
Suominen is committed to continuously improving its production efficiency and the efficient utilization of natural resources. Environmental responsibility requires daily commitment and continuous development. Suominen’s Environmental Best Practice team shares best practices and knowledge regarding environmental matters between our sites and actively seeks opportunities and solutions to reduce the environmental impacts from our operations.
We operate according to the relevant standardized management systems. All of our sites are certified according to ISO 9001 quality management standard and 7 out of 8 sites’ environmental management systems are certified according to the ISO 14001 standard with the last one to be certified in early 2021. In addition, two of our production sites’ energy management systems are certified according to the ISO 50001 standard and safety management systems according to the ISO 45001 standard.
Raw materials play a vital role in our business since they account for roughly 60–70% of our expenses. Suominen uses fiber materials, such as cellulose-based fibers, polypropylene and polyester in nonwovens production. The share of raw materials from renewable sources accounted for 54% (58% in 2019), most of it being cellulosic fibers such as viscose and pulp. We support responsible forest management practices, and we offer nonwovens produced from FSC® (FSC-N002523), PEFC™ and SFI® certified raw materials.
Suominen is constantly looking for solutions to decrease the environmental impacts of nonwoven products throughout the value chain. The efficient utilization of raw materials is therefore one of our top priorities. We are continuously working to find ways to improve our material efficiency and we strive for the minimization of waste in our production by recycling and finding alternative outlets for nonrecyclable production waste.
Water is an essential resource for Suominen as it is used in our nonwovens production processes to bind fibers together into nonwoven fabrics. Approximately 90% of the water taken into our processes is returned back to the water bodies or sanitary sewer systems, which means that only 10% of our water intake is consumed in our production processes, mainly through evaporation. Our water use and discharges are regulated by national or regional authorities and we constantly monitor the quality of discharged water. All water is treated either in our own or municipal water treatment plants before discharging. The wetlaid production technology that is used at two Suominen production sites requires significantly more water than other production technologies. Wetlaid production accounts for 77% of Suominen’s total water intake.
Suominen has evaluated the scarcity of water at our sites by using Water Resource Institute’s Water Risk Atlas. One of our production sites is located in a “high risk area” where water can be considered
a scarce resource. The water intake of this site accounts for approximately 1.5% of Suominen’s total water intake.
Our target is 20% reduction in water consumption per ton of production by 2025, the baseline being 2019. In 2020, Suominen’s water consumption decreased by 12.2% per ton of product compared to the year 2019. We managed to improve our water efficiency at most of our production plants.
Our energy consumption consists of the usage of gas for heat and steam generation and the use of purchased electricity and steam. Out target is 20% reduction in energy consumption per ton of product by 2025, the baseline being 2019. In 2020, our energy consumption decreased by 8.0% per ton of product compared to the year 2019. In order to meet our energy efficiency improvement targets, we are continuing to identify and implement energy saving initiatives at our plants.
Suominen reports its direct greenhouse gas emissions (Scope 1) and its indirect greenhouse gas emissions from purchased energy production (Scope 2). Direct greenhouse gases originate from the consumption of fossil fuels used mainly for the generation of process heat. Indirect emissions are caused by the production of purchased electricity and steam.
Our target is 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions per ton of product by 2025, the baseline being 2019. In 2020, our greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 14.9% per ton of product compared to the year 2019. Improvements in energy efficiency have a direct impact on our greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, all our efforts to improve our energy efficiency also contribute to lower greenhouse gas emissions. We are continuously looking for also other ways to decrease greenhouse gas emissions from our operations.
Our target is 20% reduction in waste to landfill per ton of product by 2025, the baseline being 2019.
In 2020 the amount of landfilled production waste decreased by 2.4% per ton of product compared to the year 2019. Four out of our eight production sites are already generating zero waste to landfill. In waste management Suominen’s first priority is to prevent waste generation in the first place by improving its material efficiency. Secondarily, we work actively with partners that can use our waste material for different end uses.