Reducing carbon dioxide emissions, water protection, and using energy more efficiently are key targets of Kotkamills' strategy. In 2020, significant investments were made to improve the mill's energy efficiency. The aim is to complete the big project to reduce the wastewater treatment plant's load and the mill's carbon dioxide emissions by August 2021. Investment projects stretching also into 2022 have been launched. The most significant investments and measures in 2020-2021 have targeted the maintenance and efficiency-Improvements of the Kotkamills paper machine that was commissioned back in the 1950s, as well as the pulp mill modernization projects. In 2020 the old drum washing line of the pulp production was decommissioned and the remaining washers were modernized. This improved the washing line's efficiency, increased the usability, and improved the quality of the pulp produced as well as the energy efficiency. As a result of the modification, the pulp mill's overall electricity consumption dropped by about 10 percent. The project will continue with a significant replacement investment aiming to increase the paper machine's capacity by upgrading the cooking lines end equipment and thus enabling the needed pulp production.
The Spanish private research organisation CARTIF has completed the first assessment focusing on the environmental and social performance of Metsä Group’s Kuura textile fibre. Kuura is still in a R&D phase and the production process to make it is currently being tested and further developed at a tonne per day demo plant in Äänekoski, Finland.
The outcome of the assessment conducted by CARTIF is very good for Kuura. In regard to environmental performance, when comparing to other commercial man-made cellulosic fibres (viscose and lyocell), and to cotton, Kuura shows the lowest impact on climate change, supporting its viability as a sustainable solution in the market of textile fibres (see Figure 1). More specifically, the use of local, sustainably managed wood raw material combined with the use of fully fossil free energy obtained from the existing industrial mill site and with a novel process for the production of Kuura textile fibre result in a product with a clear climate change mitigation potential compared to the use of existing commercial textile fibres.
The social aspects of producing Kuura textile fibre were also evaluated by CARTIF as they form one of the three pillars of sustainability. The results of the social impact assessment are very positive for Kuura, as can be seen in Figure 2. In other words, this kind of industrial production, in the way outlined by Metsä Group, would get the highest score in all impact categories included in the assessment.
“Using Life Cycle Thinking already in the process design phase is a smart way of keeping sustainability aspects in the spotlight from the beginning. It is encouraging to see this commitment to sustainable development in big industrial players like Metsä Group”, says Fernando Burgoa, LCA Specialist at CARTIF.
“Our manufacturing concept is based on locally-sourced wood that comes from forests owned and managed mainly by our cooperative owner-members, the use of never-dried paper-grade pulp as the raw material, and a comprehensive integration to a fossil free bioproduct mill. Our own early estimate told us that the Kuura concept must be competitive in both environmental and social sustainability. Having now the proper LCA results to support this estimate gives us confidence that we are on the right track”, says Niklas von Weymarn, CEO of Metsä Group’s innovation company Metsä Spring.
CARTIF is a horizontal, private and non-profit research institution, whose main mission is providing innovative solutions to the industry to enhance their processes, systems and products, improving their competitiveness and creating new business opportunities.