Suominen strives to reduce the environmental load of its operations. The focus is on improving our energy and water efficiency and reducing the amount of landfill waste.
Suominen is committed to considering the environmental impacts of its operations in accordance with the International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC) principles of sustainable development. Moreover, we contribute to several UN’s Sustainable Development Goals related to the protection of the environment. For more information, see Sustainability Agenda section.
We have identified that our environmental impacts are primarily related to the raw materials, energy and water used in production, and to the waste generated during the production process. We prioritize the continuous improvement and streamlining of our operations and foster the principle of reusing and recycling materials.
Raw materials play a vital role in Suominen’s business since they constitute approximately 60–70% of our expenses. In 2018, Suominen consumed 134,389 tons of fiber raw material (139,514 tons in 2017), most of it being viscose, pulp, polypropylene and polyester. Renewable fibers accounted for 52.9% of the raw materials Suominen consumed in 2018 (49.7% in 2017).
Suominen supports responsible forest management and continues to improve its sourcing of wood-derived raw materials accordingly. This is critical to Suominen’s operations, since wood-derived fibers – viscose, fluff pulp and wood pulp – account for nearly all of the renewable raw materials we use today. Suominen also produces nonwovens made of certified raw materials, including FSC® (FSC-N002523) and PEFC certified materials. The up-to-date certification list of Suominen plants is available at Certifications subsection.
Improving energy efficiency continued to be one of Suominen’s top environmental priorities in 2018. For the second year in a row, our energy efficiency decreased. In 2018, the energy efficiency was 13.77 GJ/t (13.19* GJ/t in 2017). An increase in energy consumption was expected due to the ramp-up phase of a new production line in Bethune and was slightly bigger than our energy efficiency target of 13.38 GJ per ton of product for 2018.
Renewable energy sources accounted for 10.1% of the energy consumption in 2018 (12.5% in 2017).
Suominen has set the energy efficiency target of 13.1 GJ/t for 2019 and our long-term reduction target is 8.5% by 2021 compared to the 2016 baseline, equivalent to 11.65 GJ/t.
The water efficiency target for 2018 was set to 42.77 m3 per ton of product as we expected the new wetlaid production line in Bethune to reach its full capasity.
However, as the ramp-up phase of the new line was longer than we had anticipated, its negative impact was greater than we expected, and we were not able to meet the set target. In 2018, our water efficiency rate was 46.6 m3/t (39.6 m3/t in 2017).
The wetlaid production technology is used at two Suominen production sites, in Windsor Locks, CT, USA and in Bethune,SC, USA. The wetlaid production technology requires significantly more water than our other production technologies and the water intake of our wetlaid production lines covers the majority of the Suominen’s water intake. Therefore our investments in wetlaid production technology increase our total water consumption. However, Suominen aims to offset the impact of the new wetlaid production line on group level and is committed to improve its long-term water efficiency by 8% by the year 2021 compared to the baseline year of 2016, equivalent to 36.6 m3/t.
For 2019, Suominen has set a water efficiency target of 42.15 m3/t. We treat all of our process water prior to discharge and therefore all the water used in Suominen’s operations is as clean or cleaner than it was when taken into our process.
In 2018, Suominen’s total carbon dioxide emissions from its operations and from purchased energy (Scope 1 and 2) were 1.04* tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per ton of product (1.01 t CO2e in 2017). We are aiming to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by improving our energy efficiency and we have set a long-term GHG reduction target of 7% by the year 2021 compared to baseline of 2016.
Suominen purchases part of its energy from companies that have lower carbon dioxide emissions. As a result, in 2018 we reduced our emissions to the atmosphere by more than 8,403 metric tons of CO2 equivalent when compared to the average for the region, which means a 9.04% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions when compared to location-based emissions.
*An estimate. The GHG emissions of Windsor Locks have been estimated according to their energy consumption due to lack of reliable information.
In 2018, the amount of landfilled waste increased to 19.6 kg/ton of product (16.8 kg/t in 2017), and it was slightly higher than our landfilled waste target of 18.8** kg per ton of product.
The amount of landfilled production waste has increased during the past years. The main reason for this negative development is the loss of partners who are able to recycle or utilize our production waste.
At the moment, we are working to find new partners. Also, ramp-up phase of our new production line in Bethune has taken longer than anticipated, which also had an impact on the increased waste volumes.
Suominen has set a target of 19.6 kg/t for landfilled waste for 2019 and we are still aiming to achieve our long-term target of zero waste to landfill by 2021.
In order to meet this target, Suominen is placing greater focus on investigating new possibilities and partnerships to increase its material efficiency and utilization of production waste.