STOCKHOLM, June 11, 2010 (RISI) -These days we talk a lot about minimizing the impact of the greenhouse effect but we don't really delve any deeper. We need a more holistic approach to the environment which involves using less of the planet's limited resources. In 1987, we used up our annual quota of the world's resources on 27 December. In 2009, we'd used them up by 25 September. What is going to happen when the developing world starts to live as we do? Half of all Swedes own two cars - if every second Indian owned a car, we'd see 2.3 billion more cars on the road from one country's economic growth alone.
The mechanism to suck up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere already exists: our forests are an important part of the future's bid to lower CO2 emissions. Since 1926, standing wood volumes in Swedish forests have been growing by 1%/yr, but it's not an example replicated worldwide. Södra's forest owners manage their forest in such a sustainable way that for every tonne of pulp Södra produces, around 90 kg of C02 is absorbed by the forest.
Water - the next big issue
The next big issue will be water footprint. There are currently footprint measurements in use in areas where water is in scarce supply, but this issue will hit our industry soon. UNESCO's current water footprint table is not that relevant - it cites a single sheet of 80g/m² copier paper as using 10 litres of water, but we use only on litre in the mill to produce that sheet - there is an intrinsic water value in the wood.
Working with energy efficiency, a key focus area for Södra, is one way to save water. We have also taken part in work with the Swedish Environmental Research Institute to produce a declaration for CEPI which is more suitable for European conditions. When this is complete, Södra will calculate its own water footprint, first as part of the whole Swedish forest industry and then individually, hopefully next year some time. Adding value in my field is seen in such measures as energy saving and, reducing CO2 emissions etc. In 2002 we started pumping hot water from our mills straight to the houses of our neighbours to provide them with district heating, among the first companies in Sweden to do this on a big scale. We rebuilt the turbines in all our Swedish mills in 2006 and we're now able to sell 300 MWh every year back to the grid. Värö has just installed a new dryer for wood residues to dry and sell biofuels. And lignin powder, which is currently being used for fuel, will eventually be used for chemical applications. Tall oil is also sent to be turned into a bio-fuel.
Sustainability - vital
We have the chance to be part of a green, sustainable future and it's an opportunity we are seizing with both hands. In so doing, we hope to help our customers become a little more sustainable in the future too. Sustainability will be vital for the prospects of all our companies. By working together, we can maximise the potential of our industry to play an increasingly important and profitable role in a greener world.