Metsä Board Magazine – Winter 2023

The 2023 winter issue of Board Magazine focuses on plastic reduction, examining the increasing demand for recyclable, biodegradable and renewable alternatives. You’ll learn about the latest paperboard solutions to replace plastic in packaging and about what makes a great packaging partnerships tick. You’ll also discover how side streams from Metsä Board’s production processes are being used to make bathroom furniture and soil nutritiens, and why regenerative forestry has a key role to play in maintaining the value of forests for future generations.




The power of packaging partnerships

Closing the loop with side streams

Biodiversity and business in perfect harmony




Board Magazine


Regenerative forestry “Our goal is to ensure forests are transferred from one generation to the next in a vibrant, diverse and climate-resilient condition.”

Timo Lehesvirta, Metsä Group’s Leading Nature Expert



Unique unboxing experience. EU says greenwashing won't wash. Quality, consistency and efficiency get a boost from new EMEA Supply Chain Centre. The pizza box goes on a diet. Helping pharma packaging stay ahead of the curve. Platinum-certified sustainability. page 4

SUSTAINABLE SOLUTIONS Partnering for perfection. page 8

ART OF PACKAGING The magic of micro-flute. page 18


Closing the loop with side streams. page 22






Muoto™ products charm in market tests. page 30

Preserving forests for the next generation. page 32

Modern mills are forerunners in sus- tainable production. page 26


Product portfolio and Metsä Board in numbers. page 35




Packaging markets demand renewable materials. page 12

On the road to fossil free mills and regenerative forestry

Our planet’s resources are finite. As urbani- sation and population growth continue to boost the market for consumer packaging, we all need to think about how to make thin- gs smarter. Today, the packaging market is dominated by two major options: plastic and paperbo- ard. As plastic waste is a global issue, packa- ging made of plastic increasingly needs to be replaced with renewable solutions. Don’t get me wrong – plastic still has its place, but there’s plenty of opportunities out there to replace it with renewable options. In this issue, we present some great examples of this. The teams at our Excellence Centre have worked hard to co-create these solutions with our customers and partners. If you have some ideas of your own, do reach out, and we’ll put our best effort into making it happen, together. To save valuable recourses, we have invested heavily in making our production and proces-

ses as efficient as possible. In this issue, we have a special focus on the effective use of side streams. Our aim is to have 100 per cent use of all pro- duction side streams by 2030, and we’re near- ly there already. I’m eager to see what kind of new uses we can come up with in the years to come. When discussing sustainability, just aiming to minimise the negative impacts on the envi- ronment isn’t enough. We need to take things further and aim higher. This spring, the entire Metsä Group had a historic turning point with the adoption of regenerative forestry principles, about which you can read more in the following pages. I hope you’ll join us on this road of regene- rativity. Let’s work together to leave this pla- net to future generations in a better state than it is in today. Mika Joukio



Texts: Maria Latokartano and Metsä Board Photos: Sami Piskonen and Metsä Board

More luxury, with a unique unboxing experience Lena Rewell Textilestudio is recognised worldwide for its high-quality handmade mohair blankets, which the company designs and produces in Finland. In future, the design blan- kets will be delivered to customers in packaging worthy of their beauty. The luxurious design blankets have previously been transported in plastic wrapping, which will be replaced by a fresh fibre paperboard solution. As the company’s operations are based on ethics and sustainability, the packaging also had to reflect these values. “I’d long thought our products needed packaging that matched their high quality and offered buyers a unique experience when unboxing it,” says Dita Eklund , owner of Lena Rewell Textilestudio. At the Äänekoski Excellence Centre, Metsä Board’s packaging design team came up with a lightweight gift package supporting the valuable brand and offering a luxurious expe- rience. An uncoated white kraftliner, MetsäBoard Natural WKL Bright, was chosen as the material for the two-piece package. The unprinted white surface communicates a sense of naturalness, with the uncoated

surface giving the package an attractive matte appearance and tactile feel. The gift experience is accentuated by the cov- er, which features the brand logo in foil embossing. Thanks to the embossing method, the gold foiled logo can be ren- dered very sharply and three-dimensionally. The packages are made by Starcke in Eura in southwestern Finland, as they have sufficiently large equipment for the produc- tion of a gift package of this scale.

“Designing this gift package was a major pro- ject for us, so it’s important the result meets our requirements. I’m extremely satisfied with both the package and our cooperation with Metsä Board.”



In 2020, a European Commission study revealed that more than half the environmental claims made in the EU were vague, misleading or simply unfounded. To respond to this issue, the Commission produced a proposal for a Green Claims Directive, whose objec- tive is to protect consumers against greenwashing by ensuring environmental claims are valid. This directive will set minimum substantiation and communication requirements and regulate public and private environmental labels to prevent their multipli- cation. Although the proposal was made last March, it is likely that the EU institutions will not adopt it before the next European mandate in the second half of 2024. Measures will become applicable 24 months after the directive’s entry into force. “It’s essential that EU consumers can be confident that the environmental claims they see are well founded and based on solid evidence. We’re monitoring the proposal closely to ensure that the existing well- known third-party verified environmental certification schemes and labels (e.g. PEFC and FSC®) are fully recognised,” says Tytti Peltonen , VP Corporate Affairs, EU at Metsä Group. “If we set clear rules for the comparison of different product categories and define information require- ments that are strictly relevant to the substantiation and protect confidential information, this will be an important step forwards.”


Metsä Board’s new European Supply Chain Centre (SCC) in Gdańsk, Poland, hosts a rapidly growing team of experts serving customers across EMEA. By centralising customer service and last-leg logistics operations, Metsä Board aims to further harmonise and enhance vendor cooperation through high-quality service. The centre also includes a Supply Chain Excellence team that handles customer feedback. “We now have more than 70 customer service specialists assisting more than 1,000 cus-

tomers in 13 languages. Alongside the customer service special- ists, we have almost 30 logistics specialists who look after logistics operations in nearly 30 coun- tries and cooperate with around 100 vendors,” says Kateryna Tsekhmistrenko , Vice President, Supply Chain at Metsä Board. The centralised service model brings increased opportunities to better meet the needs of Metsä Board’s multinational and regional customers and to take advantage of digitally advanced services that will improve service quality, consistency and efficiency.

In the new modern centre, more than 100 people work in customer service and distribution logistics roles.


The pizza box goes on a diet

This pizza box is far from ordinary. Metsä Board collaborated with the best professionals in the industry, and the result is a high func- tioning pizza box that is probably the lightest in the world with this kind of performance. The goal was to create food-safe packaging that would reduce both material and printing ink use, benefiting the environment without compromising performance, function or print quality. “Compared to traditional solutions, the weight and material con- sumption of the box have been reduced by approximately 30 per cent. Despite the reduced weight, the E-flute corrugated board box’s structure provides the box with the necessary rigidity, and the fresh fibre material with the necessary purity to carry a freshly baked piz- za,” says Ilkka Harju , Packaging Services Director at Metsä Board. The visual appearance of the pizza box was designed by Futupack, and the packaging was manufactured by Adara Pakkaus. Special at- tention was also paid to the packaging’s printing quality. Researcher and expert on ECG Expanded Gamut printing, Dr Kai Lankinen , provided valuable consultation on the graphic design and printing requirements. The flexo printing plates were supplied by Marvaco.

This ultralight pizza box concept has been selected as a winner in the 2023 ScanStar packaging competition! The jury paid special attention to monomaterials and simple solutions that provided great protection for the product but were easy to use and recycle. Compared to traditional solutions, our pizza box uses less material and has a smaller carbon footprint.



Intrograf-Lublin is one of the biggest printing companies in Poland, offering packaging solutions for the pharmaceu- tical and cosmetic markets. They also help their customers stay ahead of the curve with a live and virtual Printing Academy that offers a variety of cyclical workshops and seminars. Metsä Board experts have been sharing their knowl- edge in a variety of Printing Academy sessions, with topics ranging from the benefits of lightweighting and the ecological aspects of packaging in the pharmaceutical industry to optimisation techniques and the factors con- tributing to packaging costs. “Metsä Board’s leading expertise in lightweight fresh fibre paperboards and comprehensive understanding of sustainable production has been of great value to our participants,” says Agnieszka Betiuk , Strategic Projects Development Manager at Intrograf. The cooperation between Metsä Board and Intrograf’s Printing Academy exemplifies the importance of industry collaboration in driving progress and advancing knowledge within the field. “We believe that education and knowledge sharing are essential in today’s fast-paced business environment. By collaborating with Printing Academy, we can connect with our customers at a deeper level,” says Piotr Orlinski , Tech- nical Service Manager at Metsä Board.


Metsä Board has achieved the highest Platinum level in the EcoVadis sus- tainability assessment and A– rating in the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s latest Circulytics® circular economy assessment. In the EcoVadis sustainability assessment , the company received high scores in each of the four assessed themes, and with a total score of 87/100, it is among the top one per cent of companies assessed in the paper, paperboard and packaging manufacturers category. The overall score remained at the same high level as last year, even though the assessment included several new requirements this year. In the environmental evaluation, the

company scored 100/100 for the second year in a row. Metsä Board has achieved the highest rating level every year since 2017. In the Circulytics® assessment , Metsä Board scored the highest scores in the “Enablers” category, which highlights a strong strategic priority to transition to a circular business model. The category encompasses strategy and planning, innovation, people and skills, operations supporting the circu- lar economy, and external engagement. This year’s A– score is an improve- ment on last year’s B score and is an encouraging acknowledgement of Metsä Board’s ongoing work to support the circular economy in its operations.


Sustainable solutions

The power of collaborative partnerships Collaboration is the key in making the perfect product, package and customer experience. But what makes a great partnership tick?

Sami Anteroinen, photos: Marcis Seners

I n March 2023, representatives of the Nordic beauty brand Lumene and Metsä Board visited the folding carton packaging producer VG Kvadra Pak in Riga, Latvia. VG Kvadra Pak – a member of the pri- vately owned Van Genechten Packaging Group (VGP) – extended an invitation to Lumene and Metsä Board to come inviting them to come and familiarise themselves with the printing quality of a new product. Yulia Sorokivskaya , Account Manager for VG Kvadra Pak, explains that the objective of the meeting was to engage in the initial printing test of Lumene’s Advent Calendar for 2023. “Together, we wanted to make sure that the design was being repro- duced in alignment with the specified requirements,” she says. According to Sorokivskaya, the development of the 2023 Advent Cal- endar encountered its share of challenges. “The complexity was attributed to the numerous process steps and stakeholders, including packaging and graphic design refinement, as well as a meticulous selection of finishing technologies and the coor- dination of logistics.” Seeing is believing All that hard work paid off. In Riga, the brand owner – Lumene – ap- proved the printing quality of the package. Essi Arola , Head of R&D, Sustainability & Packaging for Lumene, was impressed by the result: “Every aspect of production was taken care of, and we were very hap- py with what we saw in Riga,” she says. Visiting VG Kvadra Pak, Arola and her team got the chance to be very hands-on with the calendar. When she learned how different col- our schemes and other details were carried out, Arola quickly became convinced the calendar would be a hit. According to Sorokivskaya, VGP makes it a priority to work closely with its customers during the test print phase.


Yulia Sorokivskaya Account Manager, VG Kvadra Pak

Essi Arola Head of R&D, Sustainability & Packaging, Lumene

Ilkka Harju Packaging Services Director, Metsä Board


Where people, brands and folding car- ton meet is where the magic happens at VGP, every single time. For almost 190 years now, VGP has believed in the unique impact of packaging for brands and products, for people and the planet, and has made it work. Today, it remains one of the last truly European packaging specialists. It operates in nine countries, with its headquarters in Turnhout in Belgium and 12 folding carton sites, one extru- sion site, and one rigid box design & production centre across Europe. Customers have come to value both this presence and independent spirit: typical is VGP’s “people first” approach, in which customer-centric collaboration is the key to success. It has won the company many leading industry awards.

“We know Metsä Board as an innovation leader that is fully capable of doing exciting new things.” Essi Arola, Head of R&D, Sustainability & Packaging for Lumene


Sustainable solutions

“This collaborative approach ensures that even the most nuanced customer preferences are well managed, achieving the best possible results,” she says, adding that quality is always the company’s top focus. No limit on innovation Metsä Board’s Packaging Services Director Ilkka Harju says that such meetings of the minds are crucial in taking industries forward. “We currently have the technology and ex- pertise to realise all types of ideas cost-effec- tively,” he says. The meeting in Riga also went beyond plain quality control issues. “The entire day was mostly about product de- velopment and thinking about the next steps: what new innovations can we accomplish to- gether?” Sorokivskaya agrees. During the meeting, many interesting topics were discussed, includ- ing further cooperation on other new and ex- citing projects such as those planned for 2024. “Our packaging designers gained experience by collaborating with Metsä Board’s team and shared their knowledge and creative ideas with Lumene. Our mission is to bring our custom- ers’ ideas to life, and we believe the best results can only be achieved through teamwork involv- ing customers and all other relevant business partners,” Sorokivskaya says. Brainstorming edge Arola says that making frequent visits to pack- aging houses is a must for Lumene – and when- ever you get the chance to do some brainstorm- ing together, that presents a golden opportunity. “We find that these onsite meetings are very constructive and regularly yield some fresh ide- as.” According to her, the paperboard provided by Metsä Board is also top-notch. “We know Metsä Board as an innovation leader that is fully capable of doing exciting new things,” Arola says, adding that as Metsä Board knows the materials and the technolo- gy through-and-through, this opens intrigu- ing possibilities for ambitious collaborations.

Arola has more than 15 years of experience from packaging, materials and manufacturing. “At Lumene, we’re currently implementing more sustainable cosmetics packaging by using recycled materials and ensuring easy recycla- bility after the product life-cycle,” she explains. “At the same time, we’re constantly looking into completely new material innovations – and Metsä Board is an important partner for us in this process.” Know your material In the Advent Calendar project, MetsäBoard Pro FBB Bright is used. Sorokivskaya says that this particular board material is a great choice for premium packaging within the beauty and cosmetics segment. “Its excellent smoothness, surface proper- ties and high brightness allow outstanding R/V printing. This includes high-gloss varnish, hot foil stamping and other special finishing effects that were particularly essential for this project,” she explains. According to Sorokivskaya, cooperating ef- fectively with suppliers such as Metsä Board is essential because it gives the packaging expert a profound understanding and knowledge of all the possibilities of the material itself. “For example, in this case, Metsä Board’s team recommended the most suitable paperboard variant, enabling our design teams to provide impeccable volumetric solutions tailored to our customer’s requirements, ensuring premium quality and punctual delivery.” Return of in-person meetings Meeting people in person takes interaction to a whole new level. After the pandemic era and Teams calls, it is certainly refreshing to get out there and see things for yourself, says Harju. “When we get together like this, it’s so much easier to offer feedback and touch on a range of issues. In-person interaction is more fluid and natural.” “After the isolation of Covid-19, that’s some- thing we all need. It’s time to get the ball roll- ing again with creative collaboration,” Arola agrees. •


Representatives from Lumene and Metsä Board visited the packaging producer VG Kvadra Pak to discuss the

fine details of the upcoming Christmas calendar.


Lumene Group develops, manufactures and sells beauty products, focusing on leveraging unique Nordic ingredients. Founded in 1970, the Finnish company consists of two brands: Lumene (spe- cialising in skincare and colour cosmetics) and Cutrin (Nordic haircare and scalp expert). With a strong focus on natural ingredients, Lumene has been a Nordic pioneer of circular beauty for over 20 years. The company’s sustainability approach is both holistic and systematic. Lumene is working closely with all its stakeholders across the value chain (suppliers, employees, communities, cus- tomers and consumers) to offer high-performing sustainable beauty products. Connecting and preserving nature is in the Lumene DNA: for example, the company actively supports wetland restoration to protect Nordic nature and to boost biodiversity. Targeting biodegradable formulas with renewa- ble ingredients, Lumene focuses on upcycled Nordic materials. In packaging, the company seeks materials that are recycled or biobased – and can be recycled further. “Building a true cir-

cular value chain has been a priority for years,” says Essi Arola , Lumene’s Head of R&D, Sustain- ability & Packaging. “Sustainability is a great fit with our core val- ues at Lumene, and we want to keep expanding that green approach further along the supply chain. After all, nobody can do the circular econ- omy all by themselves,” she continues. Lumene has listed five packaging sustainability targets for 2025. First, the company wants to use 20 per cent less plastic in its packaging by 2025 compared to 2018. Second, Lumene is maximis- ing the recyclability of all Lumene packaging and making all strategical skin care packaging 100 per cent recyclable by 2025. The third target is that by 2025, 80 per cent of plastic packaging will be made of recycled plastic or renewable raw materials (bio-based, biodegradable material). Targets four and five state that only FSC® cer- tified paperboard will be used by 2025, and that only FSC material will be deployed in shippers. Overall, the Lumene Group wants to reduce CO 2 emissions by 42 per cent by 2030, seeking to become net zero by 2050 within its value chain.


Future-ready packaging in

demand Recyclability, biodegradability and renewable materials are features companies and consumers increasingly seek from packaging.

Maria Latokartano, photos: Jussi Hellsten

I f you wanted to describe the global packaging market in a single word, you might go for huge . In 2021, the value of the global packaging market was nearly USD 1,015 billion, and Smithers Information expects this fig- ure to rise by an annual average of 3.9 per cent up to 2026. The packaging market’s development is driven by megatrends such as pop- ulation growth, urbanisation and growth in online shopping, which boost the demand for consumer product packaging in particular. Currently, more than half the packaging produced worldwide is used for consumer prod- ucts, including food and hygiene items. “According to estimates, population growth and urbanisation will increase the need for food packaging, for example,” says Anu Rehtijärvi , Metsä Board’s Market Intelligence Manager. This prompts an interesting question. What material will future products be packaged in? Today, the packaging market is dominated by two major options: plastic and paperboard. Each accounts for more than a third of the market. Plastic recycling is still in its infancy The advantages of plastic are widely known. Plastic packaging is hygienic and durable and helps protect products from damage and spoilage. How- ever, the same chemical properties that make plastic durable also make it problematic.


Metsä Board’s Packaging Design team continuously works to find solutions for replacing plastic in packaging. One example is a paperboard tray for biscuits or macarons to replace the plastic trays traditionally used inside the packaging.



Even in the EU, where the plastic recycling rate is the world’s highest, only around 40 per cent of plas- tic packaging is recycled. In the US, the same figure is only 13–14 per cent. Unrecycled plastic risks end- ing up in landfills or nature.* In March 2023, PLOS One, a US peer-reviewed sci- entific journal, published a study indicating that hu- mans were filling the world’s oceans with plastic: to date, more than 170 trillion plastic particles have ended up in our oceans. According to the research- ers, this figure is considerably higher than previous estimates. “The lack of infrastructure for plastic recycling is a big challenge, and the recycling of plastic used for food, for example, would require chemical recy- cling, in which the plastic is broken down into mono- mers or oligomer wax. There’s been a lot of talk about chemical recycling, but it hasn’t taken off as expect- ed,” says Anne Uusitalo , Metsä Board’s Product Safe- ty and Sustainability Director. The many lives of paperboard Meanwhile, more than 80 per cent of paper and pa- perboard packages are recycled in the EU. In the US, the recycling rate was 68 per cent in 2022 according to the American Forest & Paper Association. In Asia, recycling rates vary by country. Many countries lack functioning packaging and waste leg- islation, and statistics are unavailable. In advanced Asian economies, recycling rates for paper and pa- perboard range from 40 per cent to 85 per cent. “The market for recycled paperboard works well, and recycled material has value,” says Rehtijärvi. The recycling of paperboard packages also supports the circular economy. A study conducted at the Graz University of Technology in Austria in 2021 indi- cated that paperboard could be recycled at least 25 times without losing any of the fibre’s mechanical properties.** “There’s a stubborn belief about recycling that fi- bres degrade quickly, but wood fibres are in fact ex- tremely durable. What causes waste is that part of the fibre gets mixed with the glue and printing ink of packaging,” says Rehtijärvi.

Paperboard packages that are unsuitable for recy- cling due to food residue can be composted. Metsä Board’s paperboards, with the exception of the PE-coated ones, have been granted DIN CERTCO cer- tification, indicating their suitability for industrial composting. In addition, Metsä Board’s Prime FBB EB dispersion barrier board has a certificate in home compostability. Plastic is not always the most lightweight According to Rehtijärvi, people often incorrectly as- sume that an unpackaged product is the most eco- logical. “However, this isn’t the case. The purpose of pack- aging is to protect the product from spoilage, and the carbon footprint of food production, for example, is many times that of packaging,” she says. Another persistent and incorrect belief concerns the weight of paperboard and plastic packaging. Contrary to the common assumption, plastic pack- aging is often no lighter than paperboard packaging. “This incorrect belief is often due to comparisons being made between products that aren’t compara- ble. For example, you may see paperboard packag- es for muesli bars being compared with non-rigid plastic wrapping.” A third misconception concerns recycled and fresh fibres. “The amount of recycled fibre required to package a product is often bigger than that of fresh fibre. And if fossil energy has been used to produce the recy- cled fibre, the environmental impacts may be bigger than those of fresh fibre,” says Uusitalo. Consumers prefer renewable materials Consumers around the world are increasingly criti- cal of plastic packaging. Euromonitor International Ltd’s Voice of the Consumer: Sustainability Survey 2023 revealed that 91 per cent of consumers consid- ered plastic packages to be the most harmful form of packaging for the environment. “In view of the environmental impacts of plastic, it’s vital that companies keep their promise to reduce the amount of single-use plastic,” says Jorge Zuniga ,


Paperboard with dispersion barrier coating such as MetsäBoard Prime FBB EB is a great choice for products like chocolate that require resistance to grease or moisture. It’s strong but lightweight and can be recycled with paper or paperboard, or composted.


The European Commission is proposing a reform of packaging and packaging waste legislation, effectively replacing the current packaging and packaging waste directive with a new packaging and packaging waste regulation (PPWR). The purpose of the reform is to reduce the amount of packag- ing waste and avoid unnecessary packaging. The objective is to ensure that all packaging used within the EU is reusable or recy- clable by 2030. How will this goal be achieved? The measures proposed by the Commission include the prohibi- tion of certain single-use serving and transport packaging, packing lightly, avoiding over-packaging, and increasing the share of reus- able packaging. In addition, the Commission has proposed man- datory recycled content, as well as harmonised recycling labels for both packaging and recycling receptacles within the EU. According to Anu Rehtijärvi , Metsä Board’s Market Intelligence Manager, the objectives of the proposed packaging and packag- ing waste regulation are by and large good, but the reform also raises questions. “Reducing the weight of pack- aging is a good goal, as is avoiding over-packaging. Our main concern is related to the emphasis on reuse, which may increase the use of plastic and lead to a larger carbon footprint,” she says. Rehtijärvi is referring to the Life Cycle Assessment*** com- missioned by the European Paper Packaging Alliance (EPPA), according to which the envi- ronmental load of a reusable fast-food container was notably higher than that of a fibre-based container. For example, green- house gas emissions were 2.8 times higher. “It should be possible to choose the best packaging solution for each individual case, based on the material’s life-cycle assessment.”


Senior Insights Consultant, Sustainability, at Euro- monitor International. The survey also indicated that around a third of consumers preferred packaging made from re- newable materials. Consumers also want to know what will happen to the package at the end of its life-cycle. “Properties such as recyclability and biodegra- dability resonated best with the respondents,” says Zuniga. Measured benefits At Metsä Board’s Excellence Centre in Äänekoski, Structural Packaging Designer Iiro Numminen plac- es a paperboard biscuit box on the table. It was de- signed by Numminen and his team to demonstrate to the customer the kinds of paperboard solutions that can be made to replace plastic. “When customers contact us, they often want to develop their existing packaging solutions, and this development is often related to supporting the cir- cular economy,” says Numminen. The initial contact sets off a process during which Numminen and his team formulate the most accu- rate possible image of the product and its require- ments. They pay attention to the material and struc- ture, how the product functions on packaging lines and in logistics chains, how it opens, how it stands out on the shelf – and how it’s recycled. Lighter than the original package, the new solu- tion is made entirely from MetsäBoard Prime FBB EB paperboard. “Metsä Board’s paperboards are lightweight and strong, and thanks to this, the same amount of ma- terial yields more packages. We measure the differ- ences and demonstrate them to the customer. When production volumes are large, percentages matter,” Numminen says. From plastic to paperboard? How many plastic packages could be replaced with paperboard? According to Rehtijärvi, there is no sim- ple answer to the question because packaging solu- tions are always product-specific, and it makes no sense to contrast paperboard and plastic.

“In some cases, plastic may be nec- essary for product quality and dura- bility. However, we can reduce the amount of plastic used,” she says.

Jorge Zuniga Senior Insights Consultant, Sustainability, Euromonitor International

Iiro Numminen Structural Packaging Designer, Metsä Board



Plastic is easiest to replace in online shopping, where the transparency of product packaging is not crucial to the purchase decision, as well as in product groups, whose packaging does not need to be rinsed before it is recycled. Paperboard is also increasingly used to package greasy and moist products like doughnuts. Metsä Board’s PE-coated and dispersion coated paperboards are good options for packaging material. “In PE-coated products, the inside of the paper- board package is lined with a thin plastic coating. The product offers good protection, with a smaller environmental impact than plastic packaging. Our dispersion coated paperboards offer medium-strong protection against moisture and grease. Packages made from our dispersion coated paperboard can be recycled with paperboard waste, making recycling easy and cost-effective,” says Uusitalo. For customers, it is important that changes made to the material do not lead to problems in the pack- aging production process. As experts, Numminen and his team also ensure that the new solution works in all devices. “Making changes to the packaging line is a big pro- cess and requires very good arguments. However, if the packaging contains an element such as a plastic window, removing it may actually make production technically easier,” says Numminen. He says the best result is achieved by involving packaging design early in the production develop- ment stage. “A change of just a few millimetres in package size can considerably improve the logistical properties of packaging or reduce loss.” •

*) A growing plastic slick, now estimated to be over 170 trillion plastic particles afloat in the world’s oceans – Urgent solutions required: Eriksen, Cowger et al., 2023

**) Recyclability of Cartonboard and Cartons, Rene Eckhart, 2021

MetsäBoard Prime FBB EB is made from fully traceable and pure fresh fibre with no fluorochemicals or optical brighteners (OBAs), making it safe for direct food contact applications.

***) New in-store life-cycle analysis highlights the environmental benefits of single-use paper-based packaging, European Paper Packaging Alliance

Anne Uusitalo Product Safety and Sustainability Director, Metsä Board

Anu Rehtijärvi Market Intelligence Manager, Metsä Board


“Metsä Board’s micro-flute solution is very much part of the future of packaging. We are already getting a lot of attention from our customers about it.” Ilkka Harju, Metsä Board


Art of packaging

Read more about rigid boxes

The magic of micro-flute Imagine getting a tasty treat like honey as a present – complete with a lavish box! Diving more deeply into that whole unboxing experience, one soon notices that not all packages are created equal.

Sami Anteroinen, photos: Sami Piskonen and Metsä Board

M etsä Board has been working hard to take quality packaging to the next lev- el – and always with a dedicatedly sus- tainable twist. The result: a lighter gift package that has strength features close to those of the rigid box solutions currently in use. Metsä Board’s Packaging Services Director Ilkka Harju explains that the “rigid box” is a staple of the packaging industry, with mostly Asian manufacturers behind it. As rigid boxes are thicker than regular folding cartons, and do not fold or collapse, customers around the world have come to appreciate the format – but what could the alternative be like? “We wanted to offer locally produced, more sustainable, high-quality packaging to the mar- ket, focusing on premium products such as cos- metics,” Harju lays down the original objective. Targeting performance The creative team at Metsä Board’s Excellence Centre in Äänekoski in Finland already started to thinking and tinkering to solve this challenge some years ago, Harju says. “We were looking to provide the same experi- ence by coming up with a box that was strong and

rigid but to make it lighter and with a smaller en- vironmental impact,” he explains. The eureka ! factor turned out to be micro-flute, which is a significantly low fluting in corrugat- ed boards. Here’s the breakdown: the packaging consists of a separate base and lid made of mi- cro-flute. Its surface liner can be uncoated white kraftliner or coated white kraftliner. Of these two, the coated white kraftliner gives the package the best printing properties. Good fit for production lines What’s more, the packaging solution is designed to be production-efficient from start to finish and suitable for mass production on current produc- tion lines – with no major retooling required. Ac- cording to Harju, the new gift packaging solution is a great fit, especially for cosmetics, chocolate, beverages and other premium products. “Cosmetics are probably the number one ap- plication area, but the material can be custom- ised very easily to create unique packaging solu- tions,” he says. The sustainability angle is also a very potent one here. As the Metsä Board’s Sustainability Services team set out to compare the new micro-flute solu-


Ilkka Harju Packaging Services Director, Metsä Board

tion with recycled fibre-based rigid box solu- tions traditionally used in gift packaging, they found the newcomer to be up to 50 per cent lighter. “Thanks to its lightness, the new packaging solution helps our customers reach their car- bon reduction targets.” Half the carbon The Sustainability Services also calculated the cradle-to-gate carbon footprint of the new solu- tion, which considers value chain stages from raw materials extraction until the paperboard product leaves the mill – and it’s 59 per cent lower than that of traditional solutions.* And that’s not all, notes Harju. “Since no harmful adhesives or other plastic laminates are used in the packaging solution, the recycling of the package becomes much more efficient.” According to Harju, plastic reduction and lightweighting (i.e. minimising material us- age) are always at the “very heart” of the Pack- aging Design Team’s total effort. “In addition, Metsä Board’s sustainability spe- cialists help customers compare packaging ma-

terials and designs, pro- vide third-party verified calculations on emis- sions caused by the pack- aging and find solutions which enable smaller en- vironmental impacts,” he explains. Simulation savvy The Excellence Centre professionals deploy a

range of hi-tech simulation tools to explore var- ious sustainable alternatives – probably pro- viding intriguing glimpses into the future of packaging. Harju is convinced that the micro-flute solu- tion is very much part of that future. “We’re launching the first commercial pilots for the solution in the autumn of 2023, but we’re already getting a lot of attention from our cus- tomers about it,” he reveals. “The interest level is so high that we feel that this is clearly the right packaging solution right now in the eyes of many brands.” •

The new micro-flute solution – on the right – is lighter, uses less material and has a significantly smaller carbon footprint than traditional rigid boxes.


Art of packaging


Lumene is one of the cosmetics industry powerhouses that is keen on micro-flute. Essi Arola , Head of R&D, Sustainabil- ity & Packaging for Lumene, says that the company is constantly looking for new ecological materials. As Lumene is very much about the circular economy, is always investigating the suitability of various innovative materials and technologies for cosmetics packaging, working with its partners. Having recently visited Metsä Board’s Excellence Centre in Äänekoski, Arola had the opportunity to see what’s “under the hood” in the latest wood- based packaging innovations. She was impressed by what she saw. “Based on micro-flute, there were models and structures there that really stood out. The rigidity was one clearly positive thing, as was the fact that the packages had sharp corners, adding to a certain luxury feel,” she recalls. Arola believes that when the right material meets the right design, the result can be quite spectacular. “We’re looking to do something with micro-flute in the near future and are very excited about the opportunities it brings.”

*Metsä Board follows process category rules for processed paper and paperboard which are based on ISO 14040/14044 life cycle assessment standards when assessing environmental impacts of its paperboards. For comparative assertions external datasets from Sphera have been utilised. These datasets represent typical products on the EU markets. Comparison excludes paperboard converting processes. Climate Change methodology used in the assessment was EF3.0 Climate Change – Total.



Read more about the utilization of side streams

Partnerships promote the circular economy Metsä Group’s target is to utilise 100 per cent of the company’s production side streams and waste by 2030. The circular economy is needed to tackle the climate crisis and biodiversity loss.

Tarja Rannisto, photos: Woodio and Soilfood

D id you know that many of the everyday prod- ucts you use are made with the aid of industri- al side streams? Valio, a Finnish dairy company, utilises the heat re- ceived from Metsä Group’s Äänekoski bioproduct mill next to it to make cheese. The side streams also enable us to have better bread for the breakfast table, as the fi- bres processed from fibre clay improve the nutrients in the soil. The wash basin in your bathroom could be made of side stream wood chips. It’s about the circular economy. At its heart is the ex- pansion of cooperation and responsibility beyond the boundaries of our own mills to the entire value chain. The aim is to create wellbeing within the planet’s bounda- ries. The core of the circular economy includes the smart utilisation of side streams. The circular production and consumption model is guided by three simple principles: minimising waste and emissions; keeping the extracted natural resources available for society for as long as possible; and regen- erating nature. Maija Pohjakallio , Vice President, Climate and Circu- lar Economy at Metsä Group, explains that the circular economy is about systemic change. “It optimises material, energy, information and value streams as a whole to produce positive impacts on na- ture and society. The cornerstone is to expand coopera- tion and responsibility beyond the boundaries of Metsä’s

own mills to the entire value chain. Partnerships play a major role,” she says. According to Pohjakallio, cooperation models seeking systemic solutions are a recent development since the 2010s. However, Metsä Group was paying attention to its own operation’s resource efficiency long before part- nership and cooperation became key models for the uti- lisation of side streams. Among others, activities supporting cooperation and partnership are now carried out by Metsä Group’s inno- vation company, Metsä Spring. Metsä Spring invests in start-up companies like Woodio, which utilises Metsä Group’s side streams. “We have been chosen as Finland’s most start-up- friendly company twice in a row,” says Pohjakallio. Reinforcing industrial symbioses and investing in cleaner process technology are also circular economy actions. “I consider Metsä Group one of the forerunners in both engineering expertise and partnership building. Both are needed for industrial design to develop in line with the circular economy.”

Side streams can strengthen the handprint effect

Metsä Group has set an extensive sustainability target for 2030: zero tonnes from process waste to landfill. In accordance with the target, all waste and side streams



is a Finnish bathroom furniture manufacturer that is transforming Metsä Board’s side streams into raw material for its design wash hand basins and other bathroom furniture. The company processes birch wood chips from the side streams of the Joutseno BCTMP mill, from which raw material of uniform quality called Natural Birch is sifted. The earthy colour and organic structure of the material give the end product a visual wow factor. Woodio’s wood composite material is manufac- tured with respect for the environment. The bathroom furniture serves as a storage for bio-based carbon and can eventually be utilised as energy waste. The carbon footprint of Woodio’s sink is up to 80 per cent smaller than ceramic sinks, and emissions are also lower in logistics because the material is lightweight.

The side streams provide material for design bathroom furniture.



is a Finnish circular economy growth company which collects lorryloads of side streams containing fibre clay from Metsä Board’s paperboard mills in Kemi and Äänekoski every week and processes them into soil improvement fibres for agricultural use. These prod- ucts return wood-based nutrients to the ground. They also store the wood’s carbon in the soil. They also improve the water retention capacity of the soil, which means less nutrient run-off into waterways, and vegetation can increase in fields. The fibres have been found to reduce the risk of nutrient leaching by up to 50 per cent. In addition to soil improvement, similar side streams from Metsä Board’s mills are being used in landscaping and land construction.

Fact The European Commission adopted its first Circu- lar Economy Action Plan in 2015. In June 2021, the Parliament adopted a new Circular Economy Package calling for further action to achieve a carbon-neutral, environmentally sustaina- ble, and toxic-free circular economy by 2050. In Finland, the Government adopted a resolution

on promoting the circular economy in April 2021.


Maija Pohjakallio VP, Climate and Circular Economy, Metsä Group

The soil improvement fibres refined from the side streams of Metsä Board’s paperboard production help improve the state of Finnish fields.

generated in the company’s processes will be utilised as energy or material. “We’re already close to the goal. In 2022, 96 per cent of side streams and waste were utilised,” Pohjakallio says. The side streams of Metsä Group’s mills include re- newable raw materials like wood and wood components. Renewable products can replace fossil or mineral prod- ucts and result in a handprint effect to customers by re- ducing carbon emissions. “We don’t have the know-how or opportunities to re- fine all the side streams ourselves, but with our part- ners’ help, they will be brought into use.” For example, Pohjakallio mentions that the gates of the Metsä Group’s Äänekoski integrated mill site, based on the ecosystem concept, are open to partners: Soilfood Oy refines a soil-improving fibre product from the side streams of Metsä Board’s paperboard mill. Among oth- er things, these fibres help in the protection of waters and carbon sequestration. The bioproduct mill’s main product is pulp, and many valuable products are refined from its production side streams. Even odorous gases emitted from the bioproduct mill are utilised as raw material to produce sulphuric acid. Veolia is one of the recent partners to join the Ääne- koski ecosystem. It intends to build a plant for refin- ing crude biomethanol, which is a side stream of the pulp process. “Until now, raw biomethanol has been burned for en- ergy, but Veolia’s investment means it can be sold as traf- fic biofuel or as raw material for the chemical industry.” The most difficult side stream in pulp production is green liquor dregs. A study carried out in cooperation

with the University of Oulu shows that green liquor dregs can be used to produce geopolymers, but accord- ing to Pohjakallio, it has hardly any industrial use yet. Circular economy indicators still incomplete The indicators measuring the circular economy are mainly related to the recycled content and recycling rates of materials. For example, consumer products are assessed by how much recycled raw material they con- tain, and what the recycling rate of the product or pack- age is. However, only a few metrics describe several streams simultaneously at the system level. “The circular economy is not just about improved waste management but optimising the whole. The fo- cus of metrics should therefore be on the overall im- pacts,” Pohjakallio points out. According to Pohjakallio, another challenge with cir- cular economy indicators is that they only focus on how much material can be recycled or reused as material. “Energy and material flows are interconnected. It should therefore be possible to optimise their entirety and include the use of energy more closely in the cir- cular metrics.” As an emerging trend, Pohjakallio sees the regener- ative circular economy. The aim of regenerative activi- ties is to improve the state of nature and produce pos- itive impacts on society and the economy. In March 2023, Metsä Group adopted the principles of regener- ative forestry. “We will never reach the finish line in the field of sus- tainable development, but what is important is the will to develop continuously.” •



Big steps with a small footprint Significant investments in sustainable production at Metsä Board Husum and Kemi mills, as well as the pre- engineering project at the Kaskinen mill, will support its customers with greater volumes and with a smaller environmental footprint.

Charlie Bass, photos: Metsä Group and Metsä Board

M etsä Board’s Kemi, Husum and Kaskinen mills are set to be the forerunners in sustainable paperboard production for decades to come. New energy and water-efficient production processes and fossil free energy generation are just a few examples of how Metsä Board is investing in its ability to supply customers with even greater volumes of premium-qual- ity, sustainably produced materials. Let’s take a look at each project site in more depth. Lining up long-term sustainability at Kemi Metsä Board’s investments at its Kemi mill are proof that increasing a mill’s production capacity doesn’t have to increase its energy and water consumption too. Such is Kemi’s standing in the white kraftliner market that the investments are set to have a positive impact on the car- bon footprint of the entire corrugated industry. “First and foremost with this investment, we’re secur- ing the long-term supply of premium product for our customers in corrugated materials production, as well as ensuring consistently high service and product qual- ity for at least the next 40 years,” says Lars Ericson , VP Sales, White Kraftliner, Metsä Board. “Kemi is a vital building block in our sustainable growth strategy. Our kraftliner customers will get the same great and trusted product now with a smaller en- vironmental footprint. This will allow them to address the increasing pressure from brand owners and con- sumers to make packaging more sustainable.”

A €67 million investment, the Kemi project con- stitutes an increase in annual production capacity of 40,000 tonnes, investments in energy and water effi- ciency, and closer integration with the new on-site bio- product mill. It is expected that after the project is com- plete, the paperboard mill’s water consumption will be reduced by about 40 per cent, and its energy consump- tion by about 5 per cent, per tonne of product. Metsä Fibre’s new bioproduct mill will supply steam, white liquor and water for unbleached pulp and paper- board production, with condensation water and black liquor going the other way. The amount of steam need- ed to dry paperboard will be reduced by using dried baled pulp instead of wet birch pulp in the surface layer of paperboard. In tandem, the mill’s heat recovery tow- ers have been renewed, meaning they will be able to re- cover waste process heat more efficiently and recycle it back into the process. “Put simply, this is the right thing to do. In many ways, you could say that the increase in capacity is a positive side effect of this investment,” Ericson points out. “The primary goal is to make a positive impact on our customers’ sustainability targets and on society and the planet as a whole by transforming our own operations in a more resource-efficient direction.” For example, the closer integration with the bioprod- uct mill is a great example of how Metsä Board is build- ing efficiencies throughout the production chain. This integration will mean better visibility of the efficiency

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