Take a look around you. Almost everything you see can soon be made from bio-based materials. Solutions for the challenge of rising global consumption are growing in responsibly managed forests and plantations. We make good use of wood fibres, molecules and residues to create sustainable fossil-free alternatives in a variety of end uses. We lead the forest-based bioindustry into a sustainable, innovation-driven and exciting future beyond fossils. upm.com/biofore
FROM FOSSILS TO BIOECONOMY
INSPIRED by the limitless opportunities of bioeconomy DELIVERING renewable and responsible solutions INNOVATING for a future beyond fossils
BIOFORE IS UPM’S GLOBAL STAKEHOLDER MAGAZINE
Edi tor ial
A journey worth taking The continuing rise in global consumption is a sign of increased well-being for more and more people around the world. Meanwhile, the risk of overusing all available resources and accelerating climate change are issues that can’t be ignored. There are always two sides to every coin. The question is: How can we increase the quality of human life around the world without overusing the natural resources of our planet? You’ll find many good answers on the pages of this issue of Biofore Magazine. Everything starts with responsibly managed commercial forests. We promote sustainable forestry and responsible wood sourcing in order to secure the growth of forests and their numerous benefits to all of us. Growing forests mitigate climate change by acting as effective carbon sinks, absorbing more carbon than they release. Did you, by the way, know that we at UPMplant about 100 new trees every single minute? What’s more, forests provide the renewable rawmaterial – the wood fibres and biomolecules – we use innovatively and efficiently to replace fossil-based and non- renewable materials in countless applications. As a global leader of the forest-based bioindustry we’re in a unique position to show the world the way to a future beyond fossils. This mission unites all UPMers, everywhere in the world. For me, forest and biobased innovations have been an endless source of inspiration each and every day. As I now step on a new path, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of my colleagues, our customers, partners and readers for the memorable journey we’ve taken together. It has been a pleasure to have shared a part of it with you. All of this is crystallised in our promise: UPMBiofore – Beyond fossils.
ELISA NILSSON Vice President, Brand and Communications, UPM
ORDER YOUR PERSONAL HARD COPY AT upm.com/biofore
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR PRESS RELEASES AT upm.com/media
LINKEDIN UPM – The Biofore Company
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08 THE EU GOES CIRCULAR EC Vice President Jyrki Katainen shares insights on upcoming plastic recycling laws.
12 CLOSING THE LOOP WITH RENEWABLE PLASTICS
Renewable, bio-based plastics offer the convenience of conventional plastic, but without a huge carbon footprint. 18 CAN WE STOP CLIMATE CHANGE? The only way is to radically cut emissions, affirms WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. 22 BIOENERGY: WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS NOW Increased use of transport biofuels would be a key step toward a zero-emission future. 26 SEEDS OF CLIMATE-POSITIVE CHANGE The fruit of the Brassica carinata plant carries big promise for carbon-neutral traffic. 32 BALANCING ACT FOR CHEMICALS The Mass Balance Approach could pave the way for an industry-wide chemical certification system. Sixth graders get a taste of what it’s like to work for UPM as part of a Finnish educational innovation. 35 LIGNIN’S TIME TO SHINE Big breakthroughs are awaited for this wondrous wood-derived substitute for fossil-based materials. 34 YOUNGSTERS GET DOWN TO BUSINESS
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38 CHINA’S RETAIL E-VOLUTION The Chinese online shopping market offers a futuristic foretaste of things to come.
44 SUPER-HIGHWAY TO SUSTAINABILITY
Renewable biofuels offer green transport solutions without requiring costly new infrastructure. 48 CHOOSING THE RIGHT ROUTE Lower emissions and improved logistics are two sides of the same coin. 52 WIN-WINS OF BIODIVERSITY A healthy planet is good for business: bracket fungi and osprey keep score on the condition of our forests. 56 INSPIRATIONAL DNA UPMRaflatac’s Biofore Site concept fosters a culture of sustainability.
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Elisa Nilsson
MANAGING EDITORS Sini Paloheimo, Saara Töyssy
EDITORIAL STAFF Heli Aalto Veera Eskelin Markku Herrala Sari Hörkkö Kristiina Jaaranen Klaus Kohler Anneli Kunnas
Marjut Meronen Marika Nygård Maarit Relander-Koivisto Säde Rytkönen Annika Saari Tommi Vanha Päivi Vistala-Palonen
UPM-KYMMENE CORPORATION PO Box 380 FI-00101 Helsinki Tel. +358 (0)204 15 111
We deliver renewable and responsible solutions and innovate for a future beyond fossils across six business areas: UPM Biorefining, UPM Energy, UPM Raflatac, UPM Specialty Papers, UPM Communication Papers and UPM Plywood. We employ around 19,000 people worldwide and our annual sales are approximately EUR 10.5 billion. Our shares are listed on NASDAQ Helsinki Ltd. UPM BIOFORE – BEYOND FOSSILS. upm.com
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UPM BioVerno naphtha
The natural solution for renewable plastic
ISSUE 20% of a typical carton is fossil-based plastic.
CHALLENGE To develop a 100% renewable* beverage carton and reduce its CO 2 footprint.
*on mass balance basis
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THE 100% WOOD-BASED BEVERAGE CARTON
BIOFORE SOLUTION Collaborating with Dow and Elopak to convert wood-based UPM BioVerno naphtha to plastic for carton.
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TEXT Vesa Puoskari PHOTOGRAPHY Juha Roininen / EUP-IMAGES; Janne Lehtinen; UPM
”THROUGH ECONOMIC incentives and new legislation, we aim to encourage companies to shift their linear business models towards a circular economy,”says European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen.
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The circular economy is a global megatrend that has rapidly emerged at the core of European economic policy. Both politicians and businesses are working to reduce fossil dependency through recycling, reuse, and renewable alternatives. The circular economy — A pillar of EU economic policy W e take up the topic with European Commission Vice- President Jyrki Katainen to hear his insights on forthcoming EU legislation setting new targets for recycling oil-based plastics. “We are collaborating closely with industry through the Plastics Alliance. We have brought
The EU Plastics Strategy is one of the Commission’s initiatives to promote the circular economy. Katainen argues that the logic of a functional circular economy is based on market economics; it can succeed and create growth only when it yields economic gains all along the value chain. “Through economic incentives and new legislation, we aim to encourage companies to shift their linear business models towards a circular economy. Currently, less than a third of all plastic is collected for recycling, but I believe that the market will change drastically in the near future,” says Katainen. “The Commission’s goal is to quadruple the capacity for plastic recycling by the year 2030, at which point all plastic packaging entering the EUmarket will be recyclable or reusable,” he adds. To date, the EU’s Horizon 2020 research programme has distributed over EUR 250 million in funding for research and development in various segments of the Plastics Strategy. A further EUR 100 million will be available up to the end of 2020. Boost to the bioeconomy The forest industry also has a key role to play in the circular economy. “We want to make the bioeconomy an even more integral component of the circular economy.
together representatives from the whole value chain. Their task is to resolve how to increase the recovery, recycling and reuse of plastics in Europe,” explains Katainen. Katainen, who is responsible for employment, growth, investment and competitiveness, notes that plastic is a complex material. Packaging helps reduce food waste, but it’s clear that the current level of plastic consumption is unsustainable from both an environmental and economic perspective. “With the help of a European standard, we want to improve recycling and the quality of recycled plastic, while also ensuring that virgin plastics contain no substances that are harmful to health in applications such as food packaging.”
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Katainen points out that many new policy areas have yet to take effect. Under recent legislation passed by the EU, no more than 10% of household waste can end up in landfills by 2035. “The final effects of the legislation remain to be seen. When member countries are required to comply with the law, it will certainly have a significant effect on the market. For implementation to be efficient on a national level, we need a Europe- wide market for recycled plastic.” international market for circular economy products, and the topic has been on the agenda of trade negotiations with countries such as China and Japan. China placed significant restrictions on the import of recyclable rawmaterials in 2017. As a result, the world market for recyclable materials collapsed. Europe, for example, exported only 5.1 million tonnes of plastic waste to China last year — about half of the previous year’s exports. Katainen understands China’s decision, as the country is facing a major waste problem. The reduction in exports has worsened Europe’s plastic problem, but at the same time, it serves as an incentive for Deepening integration The EU also aims to create an
“The Commission’s goal is to quadruple the capacity for plastic recycling by the year 2030, at which point all plastic packaging entering the EU market will be recyclable or reusable.”
We can replace fossil rawmaterials with rawmaterials derived from biomass, which additionally supports the EU’s climate goals,” Katainen says. Bio-based rawmaterials are ideal for replacing harmful materials such as oil-based plastics. “There are plenty of biodegradable plastics on the market, but they don’t break down in a natural environment. They also produce significant amounts of microplastic waste. Their impact is just as harmful as that of other plastics. We want to create new regulations so that producers will know what kinds of plastic to bring to the market in the future,” he says. With the help of ecodesign, advances are also being made in the recyclability of products. The Commission’s new proposals for instance require manufacturers of home appliances to improve the energy efficiency and recyclability of their products. “Spare parts will need to be available for devices so that they can
be repaired. The standards will also apply to imported goods. This kind of legislation has been extremely well received as a means of promoting energy efficiency,” Katainen adds. Better monitoring Varied degrees of progress have been achieved with circular economy agendas in different EU countries. “In Finland, for example, we do a good job at recycling bottles and cans, but we have a long way to go with plastic waste,” notes Katainen. “We’re monitoring the implementation of the circular economy in the EU with the help of ten indicators. Monitoring is based on data produced by Eurostat. The member countries also have their own indicators. Data collection is important not only for our ability to monitor the enforcement of legislation, but also to determine whether additional legislation is needed.”
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Amid the search for alternatives to fossil rawmaterials, the demand for renewable, recyclable materials is set to grow substantially. UPM is developing new, innovative, high-quality products made fromwood- based biomass, as well as materials that are renewable, recyclable and have a minimal impact on the environment. UPMBiochemicals specialises in developing wood-based biochemicals, a market that is expected to grow significantly over the coming years. Biochemicals replace fossil rawmaterials with renewable alternatives. The product segments in question are glycols and lignin products. Development is currently in the pre-commercial phase: UPM is actively developing and testing technologies in search of concepts that can be produced on an industrial scale. UPM is also continuing to explore the possibility of constructing a biorefinery in Germany. The proposed industrial-scale biorefinery would produce 150,000 tonnes of bio-monoethylene glycol (bMEG), bio-monopropylene glycol (bMPG) and lignin from hardwoods. Potential application areas are textiles, bottles, packaging, antifreeze, composites and resins. FORWARD STRIDES FOR UPM BIOCHEMICALS
more efficient recycling and reuse of plastics in Europe. “Hopefully plastic waste won’t be exported to other Asian countries where environmental standards are laxer,” Katainen adds. Ocean pollution is a visible problem that has changed the way people think about plastics. “A large proportion of the rubbish that ends up in the oceans is plastic, and that applies to rubbish from the EU, as well. This creates serious problems for the environment — and human health is affected by microplastics too. Citizens and politicians strongly support changes in legislation, so we have to take advantage of the situation,” he points out. With his term as vice-president of the European Commission coming to an end, Katainen says that legislation on the circular economy is a good example of the deepening integration of Europe. “The circular economy is also an important component of climate policy. When the legislation is successfully implemented, the EU will function better than before. Replacing fossil rawmaterials with new alternatives doesn’t need to mean higher costs and lower quality of life — the circular economy can also function as a strong foundation for economic growth.”
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TEXT Saara Töyssy PHOTOGRAPHY Janne Lehtinen; Courtesy of the interviewee
Renewable bio-based plastics offer all the convenience of conventional plastics, but with a greatly reduced carbon footprint.
CLOSING THE LOOP with renewable plastics
P lastic use is expected to double in the next 20 years. This growth will stem especially from population growth and higher living standards in China, India and Africa. Meanwhile, in developed markets, per capita plastic usage has levelled off at approximately 80 kg annually. Approximately one quarter of this volume is used for packaging. In rapidly developing countries, the corresponding total is currently 10–20 kg. The first step to solving the global plastic waste problem is building a proper recycling infrastructure, affirms Vesa Kärhä , CEO of the Finnish Plastics Industries Federation. There is also a lot of work to be done also in waste management, attitudes, and in the diligent implementation of existing legislation. Despite the absence of efficient recycling systems, plastic is still needed: it plays a critical role in serving a rapidly urbanising
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population in applications such as food packaging and health care. Unnecessary use of plastic should be radically reduced. Recycling solutions, too, need urgent attention. But, in addition, plastic must also be produced more sustainably. One solution is UPMBioVerno naphtha, a renewable plastic rawmaterial made from pulp residue. Plant-based innovation Renewable plastic refers to plastic made from plant or other biological material instead of fossil raw
materials. When they degrade, renewable plastics add less carbon to the atmosphere because they simply return carbon that plants have absorbed while growing instead of releasing carbon trapped underground as oil. The carbon in renewable plastic can furthermore be recycled into new plastic or be utilised in the production of renewable energy. Renewable plastic will not solve the waste problem unless efficient recycling systems are introduced, but it goes a long way to addressing the core problem by replacing fossil rawmaterials and thus decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. “We are already producing
renewable UPMBioVerno naphtha, but we are also developing new, entirely fibre-based solutions to replace plastic. All new, sustainable alternatives are welcome in tackling this global problem,” says Maiju Helin , Head of Sustainability and Market Development at UPMBiofuels. UPMBioVerno naphtha can be used as a rawmaterial for producing bio-based plastic, either on its own or mixed with other rawmaterials as a drop-in solution. A growing amount of plastics are also being produced from biowaste sourced from the food industry and sugar cane production. Renewable and biodegradable plastics together represented only 1% of the global plastic market in 2018. It might come as a surprise to some readers, but oil-based plastic can be biodegradable, too.
DID YOU KNOW?
Approximately 50,000 tonnes of plastic is recycled annually in Finland.
Half of this amount consists of packaging and PET bottles for
which a deposit is paid. The total recycling rate is 16–20%.
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In 2016, for the first time ever, a larger amount of plastic was recycled than taken to landfills. In 2017, 42% of plastic was incinerated for energy, 31% was recycled, and 27% taken to landfills.
“Biodegradability is not the only feature we need. It’s great in applications such as agriculture and health technologies, but it doesn’t solve the littering problem,” Kärhä points out. Kärhä praises renewable plastics as a good solution. They can be seamlessly woven into existing processes, which means there is a low threshold for their implementation. “BioVerno and similar rawmaterials promote responsible plastic usage in a clever way. These solutions produce ‘normal’ plastic, bio-based polyethylene, which requires no changes to existing packaging solutions or food laws. It’s exactly the same rawmaterial, only made without natural gas or oil. This is a key milestone on the road to responsible plastic production,” says Kärhä. Life without packaging? Single-use plastic products such as food packaging are needed to preserve products. Poorly designed packaging is a huge waste of resources, but food waste, too, is a significant source of CO 2 emissions. The global population is predicted to increase to 10 billion by 2050, which creates additional pressure for resource efficiency in food production and packaging. “It’s vital that all the food we produce really ends up being eaten, but this issue will be even more critical in future. Unfortunately, food isn’t produced in major population centres. It has to be shipped to where the people are: in big cities. This is why we need packaging,”
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WHAT IS PLASTIC?
RENEWABLE PLASTIC The raw material used for making bio-based plastic is renewable biomass, such as sugar cane, maize, cellulose or renewable waste from the food industry (complying with Standard EN 16575 in Europe). Renewable plastic is not always biodegradable or compostable. Biomass can be used to manufacture different plastics, such as polyethylene, polypropylene and polyactide. BIODEGRADABLE PLASTIC Biodegradable plastics decompose in specific conditions. This is achieved when microorganisms metabolise and break down the structure into metabolic products such as nitrogen compounds, carbon dioxide and water. Biodegradable plastic can be bio- or fossil-based. All bio-based plastics are not biodegradable. The efficiency of biodegradation depends on the structure of the plastic and the surrounding conditions. Biodegradable plastics are not recyclable. COMPOSTABLE PLASTIC Compostable plastic is both degradable and biodegradable. Composting is the decomposition of waste primarily into carbon dioxide, water and humus. The process is usually accelerated in an industrial composter. There is no uniform definition for the environment or duration of the biodegradation process, but EN 13432 lays down standards for plastics labelled as “compostable”.
MASS BALANCE CALCULATION Mass Balancing is a method indicating the amount of materials (or mass) entering and leaving a production system. The calculation methodology compares the input of renewable bio-based feedstock going into production against the output of renewable material in the end product. RECYCLED PLASTIC More and more plastic is being collected for recycling. Plastic can be recycled either mechanically or chemically. Almost all product packaging, containers and bags made from plastic can be recycled. They must be rinsed or wiped clean before being collected. Labels do not have to be removed. In chemical recycling, plastic is broken down into its source materials or other base chemicals that can be used in plastic production or other petrochemistry products. Chemical recycling is a newly emerging field. MICROPLASTICS Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic smaller than five millimetres in diameter. Tiny fragments of rubber are also often called microplastics. Microplastics find their way into water from several sources, for example when products wear out, when waste decomposes, and when textiles are washed. Microplastics are also added to enhance certain product properties, and this is currently being restricted everywhere. Microplastics, their effects and emission management are being researched widely.
states Hanna Koivula , lecturer in packaging technology at the University of Helsinki. “Packaging preserves nutrients and ensures that the product arrives fresh at its destination. The process should be designed to work as efficiently as possible, with an eye to future challenges such as ongoing urbanisation,” Koivula continues. Plastic remains popular due its many unrivalled properties. It is cheap, durable and cost-efficient, and it can be shaped into any form. Although fibre- based alternatives are being developed rapidly, they have yet to match the performance of conventional plastic. Milk cartons straight from the forest The best end result is often reached
through cross-industry collaboration. In February, UPMBiofuels launched a collaborative project with international dairy corporation Arla, packaging company Elopak, and chemical producers Dow. As part of the project, UPM supplies wood-based UPMBioVerno naphtha to Dow, who refine it into plastic granules. Norwegian Elopak, which manufactures packaging for Arla, utilises these granules to replace fossil-based rawmaterials. “This is an impressive project linking together the food, packaging, chemical and forest industries. Every tonne of plastic produced from wood-based UPMBioVerno naphtha replaces a tonne of plastic produced from fossil-based, non-renewable raw materials,” describes Helin.
The naphtha is produced from crude tall oil, which is a side stream from pulp production. In the first phase, it will replace fossil-based plastic rawmaterials worth the plastic coating of 40 million cartons based on mass balance. The wood-based plastic used in Arla’s dairy cartons reduces the need for fossil-based plastics by approximately 180,000 kg per year, which is roughly equal to 700,000 plastic buckets. Meanwhile, it decreases the carbon footprint of the packaging by a fifth. “A one-litre cardboard dairy carton has a 3.4 gram plastic coating. We wanted to offer a solution that is sourced entirely from the forest, using wood-based rawmaterial both for the carton and the plastic coating. The new packaging can be
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TEXT Saara Töyssy PHOTOGRAPHY UPM
Plastic recycling – Are we moving in the right direction?
“WE WANTED TO offer a solution that is sourced entirely from the forest, using wood-based raw material both for the carton and the plastic coating,” notes Juha Oksanen from Elopak Finland.
recycled along with cardboard just like before. Liquid products such as milk require a thin layer of plastic inside the carton to ensure product safety and preservability. We are all keen to collaborate to introduce a more responsible, eco-friendly,” says Juha Oksanen , Managing Director at Elopak Finland. The entire rawmaterial chain of UPMBioVerno is certified and its carbon footprint has been verified. “The wood comes from sustainably managed forests, the operation of the bioindustry is certified, and the climate benefits have been verified by Elopak in compliance with the ISCC standard,” states Helin. “The rawmaterial is strictly a residue of the forest industry and, moreover, it is sourced from nearby forests. Switching to renewable plastic reduces the carbon footprint of packaging by about 20%,” Oksanen sums up. The world’s first milk cartons coated with wood-based renewable plastic appeared in Finnish stores in February.
An estimated 32% of all plastic ends up being dumped after just one use, reveals the 2016 New Plastics Economy report. The EU ban on single-use plastics will take effect in 2021. New, tougher requirements will also be introduced for producers of other plastic product categories. “The much-touted new legislation on single-use plastic products will not solve the huge recycling dilemma. Plastics are already a highly regulated product group. They have to be produced using REACH-compliant chemicals, and there is a staggering amount of legislation on recycling. If the EU directives on packaging were fully implemented in all European countries, there would be no need to dump any plastic at all at landfills,” says Vesa Kärhä , CEO of the Finnish Plastics Industries Federation. In Finland, the collection and recycling of consumer plastics is off to a slow start, but gradually catching up with Europe’s leaders, Switzerland and Sweden. “When you look at Europe’s leading recyclers, they have all observed a total ban on landfilling for a long time. In other words, they have totally outlawed a cheap landfill solution. The European plastic industry recommends the same, too. Naturally, it has to be carried out in a way that gives operators enough time to figure out what can be done about the issue. Recycling and energy plants have to be available,” Kärhä notes. The history of plastic reuse began in 1980, when it was first
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used in energy generation. In the 1990s, people started to recycle plastic, after which the recycling rate has increased steadily by 0.7% annually. If current progress continues, by 2050 about 50% of plastic will be utilised as energy and 44% recycled, leaving only 6% left over as waste. The Plastics – the Facts 2018 report reveals that, for the first time ever, a larger amount of plastic was recycled than taken to landfills in 2016. In 2017, 42% of plastic was incinerated for energy, 31%was recycled, and 27% taken to landfills.
One tricky challenge for recycling is the globalised nature of commerce. “Products are transported from one continent to another. In Finland and Sweden, there are recycling guidelines for packaging designers and value chains. The product and material may be produced in compliance with recycling guidelines, but question marks still surround the practices observed by operators in the different countries where products are exported. But there are signs of progress,” Kärhä sums up.
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The effects of climate change are alarmingly visible all over the world. WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas emphasises that the only way to stop global warming is to cut greenhouse gas emissions – and effective methods for doing so already exist.
CLIMATE CHANGE? CAN WE STOP TEXT Vesa Puoskari PHOTOGRAPHY UPM; Malachy Harty
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C Climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions – carbon dioxide and methane – is advancing inexorably. The average atmospheric temperature has risen by one degree and the temperature in the Arctic has risen by more than two degrees. The water in the oceans has warmed by approximately half a degree,” says Petteri Taalas , Secretary- General at the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Increased carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are caused by the use of fossil fuels – coal, oil and natural gas – along with changes in land use. Fossil fuels currently account for approximately 85% of energy production, with nuclear, hydropower and renewable energy sources together making up the remaining 15%. “The significantly increased use of fossil fuels has been the biggest surprise. Time after time, we have had
to update the worst forecasts issued in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) reports. In the last two years, emissions have increased by almost 2% per year, so we’re still not going in the right direction,” he adds. Global warming has the effect of intensifying extreme weather events. In the past decade, about half of the Earth’s population has been affected by natural disasters such as violent storms, droughts, heatwaves and severe floods. Climate-related economic losses have tripled in 30 years, and the problemwill only get worse in the next 50 years, regardless of emission trends.” Step one: cut emissions The most important way to curb climate change is to cut energy and traffic emissions, but population growth, food production and forestry and agriculture also have a great impact. “Building nuclear and hydropower plants is good for the climate. For example, in the Himalayan region of
Nepal, the increased use of hydro-power is promoting the electrification of the country, and part of the energy can also be sold to India,” Taalas says. Renewable energy sources have meanwhile become an attractive investment. The percentage of solar and wind energy is rapidly growing in China, the United States and Europe. In the case of traffic, electric cars and biofuels offer part of the solution. “Geneva Airport wanted to begin refuelling aeroplanes with biofuels, but for the time being, renewable fuels are so much more expensive than fossil fuels that this is proving to be a challenge. Fuel price hikes caused riots in France, for example, so these are not easy decisions for politicians,” Taalas muses. In addition to carbon dioxide, methane is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. Methane is generated in the production of beef and rice, but the paludification process caused by the destruction of rainforests is another source of these harmful emissions. >>
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“Drought, precipitation and rising sea levels will change agriculture so significantly that our capacity to produce enough food for the Earth’s growing population will be at risk,” Taalas estimates.
“Methane emissions represent a contribution of approximately 17% to global warming. But since methane is stored in the atmosphere for only 12 years, this problem is easier to address. The effects of carbon dioxide last thousands of years.” Coniferous carbon sinks Taalas is concerned about the future of tropical rainforests. “Rainforests store significant amounts of carbon, which is why the prevention of rainforest loss in South America, Africa and Asia has been one of the main issues in climate negotiations.” He points out that the northern coniferous zone has greater regeneration power than rainforests. Global warming and increased rainfall have boosted the growth of coniferous forests, and the tree line is inching closer to the northern fells. Northern forests are thus binding more carbon than ever before. Forest carbon sinks play an important role helping the EU achieve its short-term emission reduction targets. With the help of carbon sinks,
and he also leads Finland’s IPCC operations. Since 2016, Taalas has headed the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). An amazing view of snow- capped Alps opens up from the windows of the WMO headquarters in Geneva’s UN district. Taalas can literally see how the globe’s glaciers are in danger of melting fromhis very own office. “Most of the heat generated on the planet is absorbed by the oceans. As a result of global warming, approximately 75% of the Arctic ice mass has melted. Sea levels are rising as a result of this melting, and our estimates of the precise figure are constantly becoming more accurate,” he states gravely. “We previously anticipated a rise between half a metre and one metre, but now the worst-case scenario predicts a rise of up to two metres during the next century. It all depends particularly on the melting rate of Antarctica and Greenland. The melting rate of the glacier in Greenland has tripled in the past decade,” says Taalas. Rising sea levels expose big coastal
the phase-out of fossil fuels can be postponed, but Taalas emphasises that this will not solve the problem in the long term. Carbon sinks are not enough to compensate for the massive emissions caused by fossil energy globally. “When we look at the issue of forest harvesting, we must consider what is reasonable for the economy and employment. Finland’s industrial production processes are environmentally sound and climate- friendly. Pulp, paper and cardboard are needed globally. If we don’t produce them in the EU, they will be produced somewhere else – and not necessarily in such a sustainable way,” he adds. Disappearing glaciers Taalas has carved out a significant career in climatology since the 1980s. Working as Director of the Finnish Meteorological Institute, he has seen it evolve from a marginal science into a core issue at the very heart of global politics. He has contributed to solving Europe’s acid rain problem and preventing ozone depletion,
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cities to floods that endanger urban infrastructure. Most of these areas are located in Asia, but London, San Francisco, New York and Buenos Aires may also suffer in the future. Also, as a result of continued warming, Europe’s mountain glaciers are progressively shrinking. Last summer, droughts caused a two-month halt in ship traffic on the Rhine, Europe’s most important river route, as the water was at a record-low level for several months. The Rhine is dependent not only on rain, but also on water from themelting of alpine glaciers. The amount of water in the river is being steadily depleted because of global warming, which augurs even bigger challenges for ship traffic in the future. Crippled by dry spells Himalayan glaciers provide fresh water for many big rivers in Asia. As the glaciers shrink, less water will flow into these rivers, posing major problems for agriculture and, in the long term, for life and prosperity overall. So far, changes in rainfall have been among the most critical factors determining theoverall impact of climate change. “If we continue at current emission standards, the average temperature will rise approximately 3–5°C by the end of the century from 19th century levels, and up to 4 additional degrees in the next century. Drought, precipitation and rising sea levels will change agriculture so significantly that our capacity to produce enough food for the Earth’s growing population will be at risk,” Taalas estimates. In Africa, drought-plagued areas are spreading further southward and northward, but many other important agricultural areas are suffering, too. “By the end of the century, Africa may be home to up to four billion people. Agriculture is a significant employer and the basis of many economies. If climate
conditions deteriorate radically, this could lead to crises and significant streams of refugees.” Summit for change According to Taalas, the Paris Agreement signed four years ago is not being put into effect fast enough. “If we want to comply with the 1.5-degree trajectory specified by the IPCC, we must reverse the growth of emissions in the next five years and phase out fossil fuels completely by 2050. If we aim for the two-degree limit of the Paris Agreement, we have until 2070 to give up fossil energy.” In the past, developed countries have been the worst greenhouse gas polluters, but in the past 20 years, Asia has taken the lead. Countries outside the OECD have also increased their emissions rapidly in recent years. “Even if the US government withdrew from the Agreement, many American enterprises, cities and states have ambitious goals and practices for mitigating climate change.” Although solar and wind energy are growing by double-digit figures, according to a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), the rate is not fast enough to keep up with growing electricity consumption. The deficit is mainly filled with fossil fuels. This alarming trend is a source of grave global concern. António Guterres , Secretary-General of the UN, is organising a UN Climate Change Summit in autumn, with Taalas in charge of the scientific side. “Our aim is for member countries to discuss new opportunities that allow us to move towards a low- emission world at a faster pace.
“Finland’s industrial production processes are environmentally sound and climate- friendly. Pulp, paper and cardboard are needed globally.” – Petteri Taalas
The1change is also a business opportunity fromwhich the forerunners can gain the best benefits.”
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TEXT Matti Remes PHOTOGRAPHY UPM; Courtesy of the interviewee
THE WORLD NEEDS MODERN BIOENERGY Why
TRANSPORT FUELS – 2 DEGREES SCENARIO (2DS)
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Bioenergy usage must be quadrupled by 2060 to mitigate climate change. One key means of achieving this goal is to increase advanced biofuel usage in transport, advocates the International Energy Agency (IEA). T he IEA affirms that modern bioenergy has a key role to play in the fight against global warming and the transition to low-carbon energy. The IEAmakes a strong argument in favour of sustainable biofuels in its recent Renewables 2018 report published in October. “Increasing the use of modern bioenergy will additionally allow us to improve energy security, diversify energy generation, and reduce air pollution,” says Paolo Frankl , Head of the Renewable Energy Division at the IEA. Modern bioenergy refers to biomass use alongside modern heating technologies, power generation and transport fuels as opposed to traditional wood-burning methods commonly used for heating and cooking in developing countries. Frankl notes that despite strong growth in wind and solar energy, modern bioenergy is the most significant form of renewable energy globally, accounting for half of all renewable energy consumption in 2017. “It’s important to increase production of wind and solar energy, but modern bioenergy is an overlooked giant in the renewable energy field. Too little effort has been put into promoting its usage.” Zero-emission future The IEA’s new report follows up the agency’s Technology Roadmap – Delivering Sustainable Bioenergy report published last year, which looks as far forward as 2060. The roadmap, too, emphasizes the growing importance of sustainably produced bioenergy and advanced biofuels for reducing emissions. According to the IEA roadmap, modern bioenergy accounted for 4.5% of global energy consumption in 2015. In 2060, that figure should be closer to 17%.
“THE USE OF SUSTAINABLY produced bioenergy together with carbon capture and storage will be essential for achieving zero emissions in the long- term future,” says Paolo Frankl from the IEA.
This means that bioenergy needs to be doubled by 2030 and quadrupled by 2060. “Bioenergy is enormously significant in the IEA’s sustainable development scenario, as its use is essential for the continued replacement of fossil fuels with sustainable energy,” emphasizes Frankl. The IEA reports that while the use of solar and wind energy for power generation is continuing to grow, bioenergy is currently the only multifunctional form of renewable energy that can directly produce electricity and heat as well as transport fuels. Frankl notes that we should not only be reducing emissions, but also actively removing significant amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. “The use of sustainably produced bioenergy together with carbon capture and storage will be essential for achieving zero emissions in the long-term future.” Roadmap for greener transport The IEA’s roadmap highlights the growing role that transport biofuels
“Modern bioenergy accounted for 4.5% of global energy consumption in 2015. In 2060, that figure should be closer to 17%. This means that bioenergy needs to be doubled by 2030 and quadrupled by 2060.” – Paolo Frankl
will play in the future. Biofuel consumption should grow threefold by 2030, and tenfold by 2060. Its use in the transport sector is continuously rising, but the IEA estimates that biofuels will still represent less than 4% of the transport sector’s combined energy consumption in 2023. Biofuels are, however, the most common form of renewable energy used in transport, accounting for a percentage of about 90%. This proportion is estimated to remain large despite the growing number of electric cars. “Electric mobility is a positive thing, but it will not be enough by itself. Biofuels will continue to complement
transport decarbonisation in the future,” says Frankl. He adds that the importance of biofuels will grow over the next decades, especially for powering heavy-duty freight vehicles, marine and aviation transport. In addition, biofuels are needed in hybrid cars and internal combustion engines. “One of the advantages of biofuels is that they can be used in today’s internal combustion engines,” notes Frankl. The IEA emphasizes the growing role that will be played in coming years by advanced biofuels. Wood- based UPMBioVerno, which offers outstanding sustainability credentials, is an excellent example.
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TEXT Matti Remes PHOTOGRAPHY UPM
Facts on the table First-generation biofuels are produced using rawmaterials associated with food production, such as corn and oil crops. From a sustainability perspective, Frankl argues that advanced biofuels produced fromwaste, residues and side- streams from different types of forestry and agriculture offer the advantage of avoiding competition with food crops and generally providing deeper greenhouse gas emission reductions. “Wood-based rawmaterials are highly important,” Frankl states. For biofuel production to increase, Frankl advocates the need for more investment, technology development and commercialisation of innovations. Furthermore, he calls for efficient market mechanisms and removal of unnecessary obstacles to market entry. “The right kind of policies and government regulations are needed for sustainable biofuel usage to increase.” The promotion of sustainable biofuels for low-emission transport has been on the EU agenda for a long time. Biofuels must additionally meet strict sustainability criteria to avert adverse environmental impacts resulting from biofuel production. The IEA carefully scrutinises the environmental and other potential impacts that biofuels have during their lifecycle to ensure that their development keeps moving in the right direction. “We are certain that sustainable biofuels can be produced using several different technologies and feedstocks,” he asserts. It is unfortunate that the biofuel debate seems to be polarised, particularly in Europe. Outdated and mistaken conceptions are still prevalent, notes Frankl. A common misconception is that biofuels can only be made from food-based rawmaterials. “It’s important to stay focused on the facts,” Frankl concludes.
Reducing transport emissions is crucial for mitigating climate change. Various tools are needed in this mission, including new technologies, low-emission engines, electric cars and new forms of propulsion. Transitioning to renewable diesel is one of the most effective methods of reducing emissions. Demand for renewable diesel will grow substantially in coming years, as it significantly reduces greenhouse gases while enabling the continued usage of existing infrastructure and equipment. UPM is exploring opportunities to scale up its renewable diesel business by investigating the possibility of constructing a new biorefinery in Kotka, Finland. The new refinery would be larger than UPM’s current facility in Lappeenranta, with annual capacity to produce 500,000 tonnes of advanced biofuels for ground transport and – an increasingly important segment – air transport. Its products could also be used to replace fossil rawmaterials in the chemical industry. Thanks to sustainable, renewable rawmaterials and efficient processes, the Kotka biorefinery’s products would have a significantly smaller carbon footprint than fuels and products produced from fossil rawmaterials. The biorefinery would utilise a combination of competitive, sustainable rawmaterials, such as solid residue streams from the forest industry as well as other wastes and residues. UPMBiofuels has also developed a new sustainable rawmaterial concept for biofuels by growing Brassica carinata, an oil plant, in Uruguay (learn more on next page). The development work for the new UPM biorefinery in Kotka is expected to continue into next year, as we aim to create a competitive next generation biorefinery in terms of production, products and feedstocks. Fast track to decarbonisation
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TEXT Saara Töyssy PHOTOGRAPHY Andrés Bartet; Courtesy of the interviewees
T he “bio” prefix in biofuels might suggest a straightforward option for mitigating climate change. But cultivating plants as feedstock for biofuels is not entirely unproblematic. For starters, not all methods of crop cultivation are sustainable and climate-friendly. And, moreover, if fields are allocated for cultivating biofuel feedstock, will there be enough land left over for farming food crops to feed the ever-growing global population? These are among many complex issues coming under increased scrutiny as the menace of climate change looms larger. Brassica carinata , however, is a plant that seems perfect for the biofuels industry. The carinata grain is unfit for human consumption, yet it contains oil that is highly suitable as rawmaterial for biofuel. The non-genetically modified meal meanwhile provides high-quality protein for cattle feed. The promising plant is already yielding multiple benefits as a winter crop cultivated by UPM’s contract farmers in Uruguay. Reliable winter crop It is May in Uruguay and the main crop in the local fields – soybean, in this case – has been harvested and rotated with a newly-sown winter crop of carinata a few weeks ago. As carinata grows in winter outside the normal planting season, it can be sown in the same fields as summer food crops. The idle fields are ready and waiting, requiring no additional preparation. In Uruguay, soybean fields are typically rotated with cover crops to protect the soil from erosion. Fields must be cultivated all year round under local legislation. However, only 30% of land is currently in productive use during winter with winter- growing species of wheat, barley and canola, the rest being cover crops. “Winter farming is an obligation in Uruguay that means extra work and costs for farmers. Carinata is an alternative crop that brings in additional income. Not only does winter farming prevent erosion, it is also one of the best ways to increase the soil’s carbon-binding capacity. Since only the grains are harvested, the rest of the Though no larger than mustard seeds, the fruit of the Brassica carinata plant carries huge promise for carbon-neutral traffic. CARINATA – SEEDS OF CLIMATE- POSITIVE CHANGE
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• Brassica carinata is bred by the Canadian company Agrisoma Biosciences. It is believed to be a hybrid of the Ethiopian Brassica nigra and Brassica oleracea. The plant’s high erucic acid content makes the oil inedible. • The fields are sown in Uruguay in May two metres. While it copes with frost and dry conditions, it can also tolerate unpredictable moisture levels, as it is able to utilise extra water. Farmers also appreciate carinata’s resistance to pests. • Half of each carinata grain can be and harvested in November and December. Carinata grows to a height slightly under processed into biofuel, including aircraft fuel. The remaining protein-rich by-product is non-GMO cattle feed.
plant stays in the field. The biomass improves soil quality, thus also improving its future yields and carbon- binding properties. In this scenario, everybody wins,” explains Liisa Ranta , Manager, Sustainability at UPMBiofuels. Best of all for farmers, carinata is reliable. It provides an acceptable yield even in varying weather conditions, and its price follows international markets. This steady flow of extra income helps farmers plan, invest and develop their long-term operations. “Crop rotation is essential for maintaining good soil condition. Farmers can’t keep planting the same winter crop, such as wheat, from season to season. Carinata, too,
should only be planted every second or third year,” notes Ranta.
Efficient carbon sinks By August, the carinata crop is
thriving. As the crop matures, it binds a growing amount of carbon. Since only the grains are harvested, the carbon, around half the plant mass, remains in the field. Part of the remaining carbon is released into the atmosphere as part of the carbon cycle. The exceptionally long root system is highly efficient at storing carbon in soil. Using the right cultivation methods and the right plants not only improves the land’s capacity to absorb carbon, but it can even make