Freelance writer and friend of HOW Sandra Carpenter recently attended an Iggesund Paperboard event in Sweden and sent us this report:
Iggesund Paperboard knows the paper and forestry industry has an image problem. “You can’t get away with treating the forest badly in this country. Swedes live intimately with the forest. Thanks to allemansrätten – the right to public access – we believe that everyone has the right to enjoy nature and the forest. It’s in our constitution. There are strict regulations on the forest industry,” said Johan Granas, technical product manager for Iggesund, the Sweden-based maker of Invercote.
Founded in 1685, Iggesund is one of five forestry divisions of the Holmen Group. Located in the idyllic Swedish countryside, Iggesund Mill creates paperboard for graphic designers that’s also used for packaging – everything from book and pop-up CD covers to the box around your iPad.
“Our vision of sustainability goes beyond a carbon footprint and FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification. We’re making paperboard today from trees planted by people who are no longer living. And we’re collecting pinecones that will become trees to be harvested in 100 years. We own 1.3 million hectares of land in Sweden and produce about 35 million plants a year in our nursery to cover what we cut down.”
Although it might look random, nothing is slapdash about the way Iggesund goes about cutting down trees. In fact, they make a harvesting plan. “It’s done by specially trained foresters during the “green time” – there can’t be snow on the ground,” Granas explains.
The entire cutting area is walked around and examined to determine how and what to harvest, as well as what special concerns need to be taken into account about the land. Ribbons are tied around trees to be saved, including older ones and certain species to keep bio diversity, as well as to protect areas for cultural heritage and biotopes. Trees are left around wet areas such as creeks to avoid erosion. Then all this information is put on a map that’s submitted to the forestry board for approval.
Once given the green light, harvesting is then done by a logger with the map in hand. Some high stumps are left behind for wildlife to nest in. After the cutting is complete, the soil is prepared for three years before replanting. After 12-15 years, a clearing out is done of the birch to allow more light for the pines. The first thinning out is done at 30 years, the second at 60 years and then after 90-120 years, the final cutting is done. It’s not exactly a short-term business plan.
And then there are a lot of stipulations for how those trees are used at the mill. Having the combination of a pulp and saw mill allows Iggesund to use 100 percent of the tree. To treat the wastewater from the paper making, a three-step process is used. The fibers from the mill first go to wastewater sedimentation treatment pools that sift out the pulp to be used for corrugated paper and tissue. The wastewater then moves to a lagoon for biological treatment for 4-5 days and finally to a chemical treatment plant.
Since 2009, none of the Iggesund Mill waste goes into landfills either. Instead, it’s used in different ways, including as a landfill cap. The goal is to produce products that can be recycled as bio energy and to be 100-percent bio-driven.
“We are already a bio energy combine because the energy produced by the pulping process is used to power the paperboard machines and to dry timber at the sawmill. We also sell our excess heat, which is used to heat some 1,000 nearby homes,” said Klas Simes, energy coordinator for Iggesund.
The mill’s vision for the future is to have a production process that is completely free from fossil carbon emissions and self sufficient in electricity.