Beyond fossils - from wood to transport fuels, bioplastics and perfume

09/04/2018 11:56:53

UPM is committed to creating value from sustainable bioinnovations. Delivering renewable and responsible solutions is part of our Biofore strategy. We believe that biomass, bio-based materials, waste and residues are becoming an essential part of the circular economy, and new circular innovations lead the way to a future beyond fossils.

Wood is a valuable, versatile and renewable raw material - and the basis for all UPM businesses. In a circular economy production and consumption produce as little waste as possible, and less can be used for more. Our goal is to use every single fibre as efficiently and innovatively as possible, in a responsible manner.

Side streams turn into consumer products from milk cartons to perfume

UPM Lappeenranta Biorefinery is a great example of Finnish innovation and new use - for a process residue on a commercial scale. The biorefinery´s unique processes transform crude tall oil, a residue of the pulp making process, into renewable diesel for transport. In addition to wood-based diesel, the biorefinery also produces wood-based chemicals. All side streams of the biorefinery are fully utilised either by UPM or our partners to add value and reduce waste.

The main product, UPM BioVerno renewable diesel reduces up to 80% of carbon dioxide emissions during its lifecycle compared to fossil diesel. The process also generates renewable naphtha, which can be used either as a low-emission biocomponent for petrol or as feedstock for producing bio-based plastics.

The UPM Lappeenranta Biorefinery produces 120 million litres of low-emission renewable diesel and naphtha from a wood-based residue of pulp production. Greenhouse gas emission reduction is up to 80% compared to fossil fuels. The biorefinery also produces wood-based chemicals.

This spring Elopak, a Norway-based company supplying 15 billion cartons around the world each year, joined forces with UPM Biofuels and Dow to offer 100% renewable cartons that are both recyclable and responsibly sourced.

Creating a 100% wood-based carton is a great example of collaboration across the value chain to find new sustainable solutions. Dow first converted UPM BioVerno naphtha into renewable resins to produce bioplastics, namely bio-based polyethylene. Elopak in turn coated their wood-based beverage carton with the wood-based bioplastics. Every tonne of UPM's wood-based naphtha that Dow converts into bioplastics reduces one tonne of fossil raw materials used – and the sustainability of the entire value chain is verified.

UPM BioVerno wood-based naphtha can be used as renewable feedstock for bio-based plastics, for example coating beverage cartons. As a result the whole package is 100% wood-based.

Other output streams from the Lappeenranta Biorefinery include renewable turpentine, pitch and sodium bisulphite, which are formed as residues of biofuel production. All these residues have several applications in the chemical industry.

For example, UPM’s wood-based turpentine can be used in the production of bio-based aroma chemicals for the fragrance industry. Aroma chemicals are used in a lot of products from perfume, flavours and cosmetics to cleaning products and detergents. In fact, a large proportion of all aromatic molecules used in today´s fragrance industry are based on turpentine obtained from natural, renewable resources, such as wood biomass.


Wood-based turpentine, a residue of UPM´s renewable diesel production, is a sustainable, non-fossil feedstock for aroma chemicals used in the fragrance industry. Perfume producers can also choose to label their perfume bottles with labels made from renewable raw materials, such as UPM Raflatac´s bio-based films.

Another residue from the biorefinery, wood-based pitch, can be used to produce inks, bitumen for roads and roofs, or used as such as biofuel. Sodium bisulphite is most often used as a reducing agent in the chemical industry, for example in bleaching in the pulping process. Now there is a renewable alternative. Thus, a new wood-based product developed from the residue of pulp production generates new side streams that are further utilised as renewable resources.

The circular economy in practice at the UPM Kaukas mill site: wood-based sodium bisulphite, a residue of producing renewable diesel from a residue of the pulp mill returns to the pulp mill for use as a reducing agent in bleaching during the pulping process.

In the bioeconomy, renewable biomass and efficient bioprocesses are used to achieve sustainable production. Yesterday's waste is the valuable raw material of today as waste and residues are turned into value added products.

We at UPM are determined to minimise waste, utilise side streams, reduce the need for fossil raw materials, and create new jobs in the process. We are truly inspired by the limitless opportunities of the bioeconomy.