Circularity – integral to our business

Growing, healthy forests, efficient management of raw materials and circular ecosystems are vital to our profitability. They are also the cornerstone of a genuinely sustainable business.

Circularity means that resources are used, reused and recycled to avoid final waste. Holmen owns and adds value to the forest by using renewable raw material to make climate-smart products in a business model that is virtually entirely circular.

Holmen’s forest management has chain-of-custody certification, which means that all the wood can be traced back to its origin in sustainably managed forests. Holmen manages its forests with as little environmental impact as possible through long-term, clear silviculture plans.

We use the whole harvest in our sawmills and paper mills, in which production is largely based on fossil-free electrical and thermal energy. Since 2005, emissions of fossil carbon from the mills have fallen by 86 per cent and our own renewable energy production corresponds to almost half of Holmen’s total electricity consumption.

Close collaboration with paperboard and paper recycling organisations means we take responsibility for the final stage of our value chain.

By-products become new resources

Our production plants are among the most resource-efficient in the world. Over the years, we have developed methods to effectively reduce our use of energy, water and chemicals, and to recover and re-use the waste that arises. For example, wood waste products from the sawmill are used to generate electrical and thermal energy in the mills, organic material from the water treatment process is used to make natural fertiliser, which is sold on, and steam from the mills at Iggesund and Braviken is used in the drying processes at the integrated sawmills.

More information about by-products and waste.

We use all harvested raw material

Holmen’s two nurseries produce 35 million seedlings each year, with the majority planted on the Group’s own land. After 70–90 years, as growth slows and the forest’s capacity to absorb and store carbon has fallen, it is mature enough to be harvested. 80 per cent of the growth is harvested, which means that the amount of wood in our forests increases every year.

About half of the harvest consists of large logs that are used to produce construction material. The narrower part of the tree and wood from thinning represents 45 per cent of the harvest and is used to manufacture paperboard and paper. The remainder comprises branches, tops, bark and sawdust, which are used to produce renewable energy.

We saw as much wood as technically possible from the trees we harvest. Nothing goes to waste. Everything is used.

Fresh fibre

The shared feature of the products that Holmen produce is that they are made from fresh fibre from sustainably managed forests, which has benefits for both the product and the environment.

Fresh fibre offers unique benefits

With regard to paperboard products higher strength, better brightness and a neutral effect on smell and taste in contact with food are just a few of the properties that add clear value to the end product. The combination of the fresh fibre and the inherent properties of the paperboard also make it possible to manufacture attractive and functional packaging solutions that offer an excellent substitute for packaging based on fossil raw materials.

Holmen's magazine and book paper is made from fresh fibre from Swedish forests, making it possible to develop paper grades with high bulk, creating paper that is thick but still light. This means that despite fewer tonnes of paper, the customer  can produce printed material with the same thickness and feel as traditional, more expensive paper grades. In combination, this leads to lower costs for paper and distribution. 

Paper based on fresh fibre has extra stability for its weight. In addition, the paper has a naturally higher brightness that improves the way text and images are experienced, compared with paper based on recovered fibre. This makes printed material from fresh fibre based paper a natural complement to digital media.

Recovered paper needs fresh fibre

Pulp, paper and paperboard made from fresh fibre from Nordic forests play an important role in the European recovered fibre ecocycle. Forest resources are limited in the rest of Europe, which means that paper manufacture is based on recovered paper to a considerably higher extent.

When the fibre is used the first time it is a fresh fibre. When the paper is collected and recycled it becomes a recovered fibre. Used fibre can be recycled up to seven times before it gets too short and weak and it then ends up as biofuel. The ecocycle needs a constant injection of fresh fibre from the sustainably managed forests. Without fresh fibre, there is no future recovered fibre.