Improving the use of process water
Water is an essential resource for the forest industry. Ensuring that water use in production is optimised and that wastewater is treated efficiently are both guiding principles of our water management.
Metsä Group’s objective is to improve the use of process water by 25% per product tonne in 2018-2030. The target will be achieved both through investments, such as in new technology, and by streamlining and optimising the processes. In 2021, our process water use declined by 5.4% compared to the year 2018.
Metsä Group's production is mainly in the Nordic countries, which are, according to WBCSD (World Business Council for Sustainable Development), the world's water richest region. Given the need for water in the manufacturing of forest products, mills have been built along the lakes and rivers. Although water is used, the Finnish forest industry is a modest user of water: the industry uses only 0.2% of the available water resources Finland. The process water is cleaned thoroughly before returned back into the rivers, lakes or sea. About half of the water is used for cooling machinery. As the cooling water runs in a separate system there's no need to clean it after use.
Minimising the impact of the forest industry operations extends beyond the mills. The impact of forestry on water is minimised using a variety of methods – for example, forest certification requires buffer zones. Forests are vital to the water cycle, since they maintain the balance between precipitation and evaporation as well as improve the quality of groundwater by reducing the absorption of surface runoff into groundwater. In the Boreal region, evaporation happens mostly in forests. Forests also do not need to watering, as, for example, in Finland it rains 600–700 millimetres per year.