Environmental responsibility

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

Raw materials play a vital role in Suominen’s business since they constitute approximately 60–70% of our expenses. In 2017, Suominen consumed 139,514 tons of fiber raw material (136,387 tons in 2016), most of it being viscose, pulp, polypropylene and polyester. Renewable fibers accounted for 49.7% of the raw materials Suominen consumed in 2017 (50.6% in 2016).

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.

Energy efficiency

Improving energy efficiency continued to be one of Suominen’s top environmental priorities in 2017. The four-year positive trend in energy efficiency shifted as energy consumption per ton of product increased slightly, to 12.92 GJ/t from 12.69 GJ/t in 2016. The primary reason for the increase was the ramp-up of the new manufacturing line at the Bethune plant. The new production line consumes energy in the ramp-up phase, although it does not yet produce significant volumes.

Renewable energy sources accounted for 18.8% of the energy consumption in 2017 (19.3% in 2016).

Suominen has set the energy efficiency target of 13.38 GJ/t for 2018. Energy efficiency is expected to temporarily worsen due to the ramp-up phase of the new production line in Bethune. We aim to improve our energy efficiency by 8.5% by 2021 compared to the 2016 baseline, equivalent to 11.65 GJ/t.

Water efficiency

Improving water efficiency was also among our environmental goals in 2017. The water efficiency target for 2017 was set at consumption of 36.80 m3 per ton of product (7.3% reduction from 2016). We were not able to reach the target, but still slightly improved our water efficiency, achieving efficiency of 39.60 m3/t (39.69 m3/t in 2016). Suominen’s total water consumption increased in 2017 due to the ramp-up of the new wetlaid production line in Bethune. The new production line consumes water in the ramp-up phase, although it does not yet produce significant volumes.

Water consumption is the highest at Suominen’s plants in Windsor Locks, CT, USA and in Bethune, due to the wetlaid production technology utilized at the plants. While the wetlaid technology requires relatively large amounts of water, we have invested in it since the technology provides unique opportunities in terms of product offering and features. On average, Suominen’s production plant in Windsor Locks, CT, USA, has represented over 60% of Suominen’s total water consumption.

For 2018, Suominen has set a water efficiency target of 42.77 m3/t, as we expect the new production line in Bethune to reach its full potential towards the end of the year, consequently increasing our water consumption. In coming years, Suominen aims to offset the water-consuming
effect of the new production line on a corporate level and improve its water efficiency by 8% by year 2021 compared to the 2016 baseline, equivalent to 36.59 m3/t.

Thanks to our continuous efforts to improve our water-treatment systems, all the water discharged from Suominen’s operations is as clean or cleaner than it was when taken into our process.

Greenhouse gas emissions

After several years of decline, in 2017 Suominen’s total greenhouse gas emissions (scope 1 and scope 2) somewhat increased to 1.01 tons of CO2 equivalent per ton of product (0.99 t/t in 2016). Suominen aims at reducing emissions by setting energy-efficiency targets.

Whenever possible, Suominen purchases energy from companies that have lower greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, in 2017 we reduced our emissions to the atmosphere by more than 9,500 metric tons of CO2 equivalent when compared to the average for the region, which means a 9.47% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions when compared to location-based emissions.

For 2018, Suominen has set CO2 emission target of 1.06 t/t as we expect the emissions to temporarily increase as the ramp-up phase of the new manufacturing line at Bethune plant continues. However, Suominen aims for a 7% reduction in CO2 emissions by year 2021 compared to the 2016 baseline, equivalent to 0.92 t/t.

Waste to landfill

Suominen’s target for landfill waste in 2017 was 13.5 kg per ton of product. The negative trend continued for the second year in a row, as waste volumes increased to 16.8 kg/t in 2017 (10.7 kg/t in 2016). The main reason for the negative development,
in addition to the significantly increased waste volumes at Bethune plant due to the ramp-up phase of the new line, is the loss of waste outlets, or cooperation partners that can recycle Suominen’s process waste, and the inability to find new ones.

We continue our efforts to reduce the amount of landfill waste from our operations, with the target for 2018 set at 39.0 kg/t and the long-term target for 2021 at 0.0 kg/t.