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Resource efficiency

Simply, resource efficiency means doing more with less. By optimizing the value and usefulness of resources purchased as inputs, a company may save in production costs while mitigating negative environmental externalities.

Energy, water and material efficiency are all included under the resource efficiency umbrella and, consequently, can be considered contributions to the circular economy. 

Example

Stora Enso: Lignin of Tomorrow

Situation

  • There are many potential markets and uses for lignin. Lignin can be used for replacement of phenols that are used in resins for adhesives in, for example, plywood and veneer applications.
  • Traditionally, the pulp industry has discarded lignin when creating paper and packaging and lignin is often used as an energy source for pulp mills.  

Challenge

  • Using wood more effectively and increasing the production of available marketable products beyond pulp.
  • Stora Enso wanted to decrease its reliance on fossil fuels, while at the same time benefiting from a potential business opportunity by selling lignin.

Solution

  • Stora Enso’s Sunila Mill in Finland is the world’s first integrated lignin extraction plant to produce dry kraft lignin and fire it directly in the mill’s lime kiln and replace fossil-based fuel.
  • Sunila’s lignin can be packed for sales to external customers. The pulp-based biorefinery allows for replacing fossil products with renewable products, made in industrial processes that use biomass as an energy source.

Key benefits

  • So far Sunila Mill is replacing 70% of the natural gas in the lime kilns with lignin, meaning a reduction of CO2 emissions by 27,000 tonnes per year.
  • Stora Enso can sell lignin to external customers.
  • Improved resource efficiency by using a by-product.
  • The lignin is made of sustainably sourced wood.
  • Stora Enso’s Sunila Mill has both FSC and PEFC chain-of-custody certification.