Holmen has long operated sustainable forestry, whereby carbon dioxide is captured in the forest and its products. For more than a century, the Group's forests have been managed with a sustainable perspective in which growth is higher than the harvest and where far-reaching nature considerations protect biodiversity. Capturing approximately two million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, Holmen's operations are climate-positive. At the same time, society can be supplied with paperboard, paper, wood products and other products made from forest raw material that are capable of replacing fossil-based products. The assessment is that both forest growth and extraction of wood can increase by 25 per cent over a 40-year horizon, which means that an increasing amount of carbon dioxide can be captured in the forests and products of the future.
R&D in three areas
To maximise the value and benefit of the forest, intensive work is also under way to develop today's products while identifying future opportunities for renewable wood fibre. Holmen's work on research and development is mainly focused on three areas – increased forest growth, more efficient production and developing existing and new products in the product areas of paperboard, paper and wood products. This work is largely done jointly with other players, often within the same industry sector, and through collaborations with universities, colleges and research institutes. The Group is also working on identifying and developing new business opportunities, based on Holmen's renewable wood raw material and the by-products that arise in production. Research is being conducted into the components that make up wood: cellulose, hemicellulose and the binding agent lignin, which can be used, for example, to produce light, strong and sustainable products for structural solutions in the construction industry. An important starting point for the work is that the new business opportunities must be linked to Holmen's existing industrial sites.
Ecocycles produce a circular economy
The modern forest industry has a central role to play in the future bioeconomy, in which the resources of the forest must be used more efficiently and to an ever-increasing extent. The growing forest and the products it produces are an important cornerstone for the transition to an economy in which bio-based raw materials and products replace fossil-based ones.
The circular economy is a concept that shares some DNA with a bio-economy. Being part of a circular economy means highlighting business opportunities from circular ecocycles, in which the added value of the products is preserved as far as possible and waste is minimised. End-of-life paperboard and paper products top up the recovered paper ecocycle with much-needed fresh fibre, for example. The wood fibre can be re-used up to seven times before it is finally used as biofuel. But without fresh fibre, there is no future recovered fibre. Increased resource-efficiency and a higher proportion of renewable material will be vital to realising a circular economy.
Very nearly 100 per cent of the by-products and waste that arise from Holmen's operations is collected and used for various purposes. The whole tree is utilised and the residual products are used either in Holmen's own manufacturing or in another industry. With a renewable raw material plus products that allow material recovery or, once expended, are used in fossil-free energy production, and recovery of chemicals and energy in the production plants, Holmen is already part of a bio-based circular economy.
Holmen's operations help to combat climate change and create condition for sustainable development in many ways – partly through carbon dioxide being captured and stored in the forests and the products, and partly through resource-efficient production run predominantly on renewable energy. Thanks to investments, including those in more efficient production processes and developing the products of today and of tomorrow with forest raw materials as a base, the positive climate effects will be reinforced in the future.