Sally Cousins, Packaging Journalist
Feb. 19, 2013
Combining sustainability and product development can be a balancing act. Metsä's new Euro 50 million biopower plant at its Kyro mill site in Finland has been part of its push towards the dramatic improvement of its carbon footprint while enhancing some of its core products. The move will result in an approximate halving of the carbon footprint of Metsä Board's folding boxboards Carta Elega and Avanta Prima.
Chief executive Mikko Helander comments: "We have been working on improving energy efficiency and sustainability of our mills. The new biopower plant will help us in these efforts, as well as meeting our target of cuttiing CO₂ emissions by 30% across operations by 2020 compared to 2009 levels." The biopower plant will replace the use of fossil natural gas with CO₂-neutral, discarded wood - such as bark and other biomass from industrial side streams, as well as logging residual and chips from first thinnings of growing forests.
Also, the biopower plant will produce electricity and heat for Metsä Board Kyro and also provide heating for the neighbouring district of Hämeenkyrö. CO₂ emissions from the Kyro mill will be reduced by approximately 100,000 tonnes/yr to about a quarter of previous levels.
Helander adds: "We completed the paperboard business area investment programme as planned with the inauguration of the biopower plant at Kyro mill. Our production machinery is now top class in the world, and our folding boxboard capacity, which was expanded by 150,000 tonnes/yr will be fully available from the beginning of 2013. New capacity is necessary in order for us to ensure the availability of board for our customer in all situations."
The Kyro mill development has enabled the increased capacity of Carta Elega and Avanta Prima ranges - suitable for use in the beauty care, fragrance, cosmetics and luxury goods sectors.
The Kyro mill investment will result in an additional 40,000 tonne/yr of Carta Elega and Avanta Prima and a further 30,000 tonnes/yr of Carta Integra from its Äänekoski mill. As well as this, new sheeting services have been introduced at Äänekoski and at Gohrsmühle in Germany, together with a new express board service to serve customers in Europe who need short delivery lead times or smaller orders.
The express board development was specifically set up set-up to meet market demands for fast turnaround products.
Customers still cautious
Markku Romano, VP cartonboard sales in Europe and MEA explains: "We know there is more demand for our sheeted folding boxboards, and we have made significant investment to improve their availability. There are many more short-term promotions and special occasion packs in today's market, all of which need extra flexibility and fast response."
The company is realistic about market pressures and its recent statement following its Q3 results showed that orders for its folding boxboard products have slowed down in recent weeks.
In its statement Metsä said that the global economic slowdown had made its food industry customers cautious. Sales for Q3 were Euro 532m compared to Euro 616 million the year before. Its results before taxes excluding non-recurring items was Euro 10 million compared to a loss of Euro 11 million in the same period last year.
However the company said orders for folding boxboard had slowed recently but "the price situation is stable." Helander commented that orders from food packaging customers may remain slow during the coming months due to the current economic situation. "Paperboard delivery volumes are estimated to be slightly lower in the fourth quarter than in the third quarter due to seasonal factors.
With current European economic instability still not going away making predictions about the future is increasingly difficult.
Helander concludes: "Market prices of pulp are expected to increase in the fourth quarter but it is estimated that the average price of deliveries will be slightly lower that in the third quarter. The overall situation in the global economy is currently uncertain, which makes business forecasting more difficult than in normal conditions."