Environmental responsibility

Suominen strives to reduce its direct environmental load and minimize the environmental impacts of its products throughout their life cycle. In our own operations, we focus 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. 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 prominent role in Suominen’s business since they constitute approximately 60–70% of our expenses. In 2016, Suominen purchased 136,387 tons of fiber raw material (138,215 tons in 2015), most of it being viscose, pulp, polypropylene and polyester. Renewable resources accounted for 50.6% of the raw materials Suominen consumed in 2016 (48.2% in 2015).

Suominen supports responsible forest management and continues to improve its sourcing accordingly. This is critical to Suominen’s operations, since woodderived 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 in the Certifications section.

Energy and water efficiency

We continued to focus on improving Suominen’s energy and water efficiency in 2016.

In energy efficiency, the favorable trend continued and Suominen managed to reduce its energy consumption to 12.69 GJ per ton of product (12.78 GJ/t in 2015) by, for example, investing in production line efficiency improvements, installing a new energy recovery system in our Cressa, Italy, plant and starting to adopt LED lighting in Suominen production plants.

Renewable energy sources accounted for 19.3% of the energy consumption in 2016 (21.9% in 2015).

In water efficiency, the goal was set at consumption of 40.06 m3 per ton of product (5.5% reduction from 2015). We beat our water efficiency target for the year, achieving an efficiency of 39.69 m³/t (42.08 m3/t in 2015). The improvement was made possible by, among other things, investing in a cooling water recovery system in Green Bay, WI, USA plant.

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

We expect Suominen’s water consumption to increase during 2017 as we begin production on the new wetlaid production line in Bethune, SC, USA. Currently, Suominen’s plant in Windsor Locks, CT, USA, alone represents around 70% of our water consumption due to the wetlaid production technology utilized at the plant. However, the water consumption in Bethune is expected to be lower than in Windsor Locks, since the new production line represents state-of-the art technology.

Greenhouse gas emissions

In 2016, Suominen’s total greenhouse gas emissions (scope 1 and scope 2) fell to 0.99 tons of CO2 equivalent per ton of product, down from 1.07 t/t in 2015. Suominen has not set targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions but, instead, 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 2016 we reduced our emissions to the atmosphere by more than 9,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent when compared to the average for the region, which means a 9.45% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions when compared to location-based emissions.

Waste to landfill

Suominen’s target for landfill waste in 2016 was 6.86 kg per ton of product (1.5% reduction from 2015). However, after two fairly steady years, waste volumes increased to 10.7 kg/t in 2016 (6.96 kg/t in 2015). This was due to not being able to recycle some of the waste generated in one of our plants. All other seven production plants achieved their waste reduction targets. In the future, we aim to meet our waste reduction targets by placing greater focus on improving recycling.