UPM’s good news bear brings completed EIA on Kotka Biorefinery and more

October 6, 2018 |

We all love positive news stories and when the good news bear arrives, we take notice. Good news makes your heart sing, your soul feel hopeful, and those good ole’ endorphins and dopamine receptors explode with glee.

So to ward off the Monday blues, we bring you the ‘good news bear,’ brought to you by UPM with their recent flurry of joyful news.

UPM received some exciting news last week from consultancy company Pöyry about their Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for UPM’s possible Kotka Biorefinery in Finland. Not only has the EIA been completed and submitted to the “authorities” for their final conclusions, it offers rave reviews of the biorefinery saying it would have substantial positive impacts such as increasing utilization of wastes and residues as well as decreases in greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the EIA, the decrease of the greenhouse gas emissions achieved by the biorefinery would be as much as 16% of the greenhouse gas emissions generated by Finnish road traffic – equivalent to three times the greenhouse gas emissions of a city the size of Helsinki. How’s that for some good news?

If realized, the UPM Kotka Biorefinery would also have a very positive effect on the Kotka region’s economic life and finances indeed. Good news on top of good news!

According to UPM, “the EIA is part of the approximately year-long pre-study phase for the Kotka Biorefinery, looking at the feasibility of the project. EU and national policies on biofuels will also play an important role in the final assessment of this possible investment. The final conclusions of the authorities for the EIA are expected in the beginning of next year.”

Check out UPM’s Strategic Transformation: The Digest’s 2018 Multi-Slide Guide to UPM, the Biofore company to get more details on UPM’s plans to become a major player in high quality, advanced biofuels for transport and their innovative wood-based biofuels and production technologies.

Biorefinery Background

The UPM Kotka Biorefinery would produce approximately 500,000 tons of advanced biofuels made from sustainable raw materials for use in the road transport, marine and aviation sectors. The biorefinery’s products could also be used for replacing fossil raw materials in the chemical industry.

The proposed site is in the area of a dismantled power plant formerly run by the Pohjolan Voima energy company.

The Yin and Yang of EIA

So it can’t all be good news right? After all, we need the yin to go with the yang, but in this case there isn’t much to counter balance the good news.

The Environmental Impact Assessment states that the UPM Kotka Biorefinery is feasible, and the possible environmental impacts can be limited by the means stated in the assessment. If the biorefinery goes ahead, the main environmental impacts will be caused by increased traffic and changes in the landscape. Even for ‘bad’ news, it really isn’t that bad since there are ways to deal with the traffic and landscape changes that would come with any biorefinery.

And remember, the renewable and sustainable raw materials and efficient processes of the possible Kotka Biorefinery enable significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil-based fuels and products. That’s a pretty strong yang or “sunny side” to the yin or “dark side”.

Busy Bear

Not only is UPM bringing us the good news bear today, it has been for a while.

Just a few weeks ago, UPM was recognized as a Global Compact LEAD company for its strong engagement to the United Nations Global Compact, as reported in The Digest. The recognition was addressed to only 34 global companies at the Global Compact Leaders Summit in New York and recognized companies like Unilever, Nestle S.A., BASF SE and L’Oreal – making UPM listed with some nice company.

“Being among the 34 world’s leading companies in sustainability is an outstanding recognition for the work UPM has done in the area of responsible business conduct,” said Pirkko Harrela, Executive Vice President, Stakeholder Relations, UPM. “We have had the LEAD status since January 2016 when we were invited for the first time to this distinguished network as the only forest industry company and also as the first Finnish company ever.”

UPM Biofuels’ continuous efforts for a more sustainable supply chain and operations was also recognized by the world’s first RSB (Roundtable of Sustainable Biomaterials) low ILUC (indirect land use change) risk certification, as reported in The Digest in April. The certificate was received for crude tall oil, the feedstock used for UPM BioVerno renewable fuels production at the Lappeenranta Biorefinery in Finland, and for UPM’s cultivation of the Brassica carinata oil crop in Uruguay.

The RSB low ILUC risk certification is an additional proof of sustainability for UPM Biofuels, showing that the company’s use of crude tall oil and Brassica carinata oil for biofuels production has a low risk of causing indirect emissions elsewhere. The low ILUC risk RSB certification places UPM Biofuels’ raw materials, crude tall oil and Brassica carinata oil in the category of most sustainable feedstocks.

The ‘Beary’ Bottom Line

All this good news is making us giddy, but in all seriousness, UPM is rockin’ it with how serious they are taking the sustainability aspects of what they do. The RSB certification, the EIA study, the UN Global Compact recognition…it means they are doing the right things. They are a Care Bear and a Good News Bear all in one…maybe they should change their logo from the griffin and guardian of the northern forests to a bear? Since the griffin logo is the oldest continuous company logo in Finland, we doubt it, but we digress…

Back to the amazing things UPM is doing…it even makes economic sense. With Finland set to boost its use of biofuels to 54% by 2030 including double counting for fuels produced from forestry waste like UPM’s, the company could provide 30% of Finland’s diesel demand and achieve the mandate, as reported in The Digest in February 2017. With that, we foresee more to come from UPM’s good news bear, or griffin.

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