Just as we have embarked on the decarbonisation of the energy sector, a transition to renewable carbon in the chemical and plastics industries is necessary if we are to stop adding to the earth’s greenhouse gases. To achieve this, all the materials that we currently make out of fossil carbon, which is nearly everything nowadays from packaging to clothing and household goods, need to be replaced with something renewable and integrated into a circular economy.
In the future beyond fossils, there will only be three sources of carbon – grown, captured or recycled. At Leuna, in the German federal state of Saxony-Anhalt, UPM Biochemicals is investing 750 million Euros to enable the transition to renewable carbon for use in the chemical and plastics industries using woody biomass.
The process to manufacture UPM’s bio-based materials uses regionally-sourced wood from forests and side streams from sawmill operations, all from within a 250-km radius of the biorefinery. One hundred percent of the wood used to produce UPM’s renewable biochemicals is either FSC®- or PEFC™-certified and sourced from regional beechwood forests - conserving biodiversity and natural ecosystems. All the wood used is fully traceable and supported by a verified third-party chain of custody.
Holger Koth, Head of Saxony-Anhalt State Forest Service’s south division, said: “We are supplying sustainably sourced, certified beechwood from forests in the region to UPM Biochemicals. The biorefinery’s responsible use of regional beechwood will enable forest businesses and foresters to tap into a new, sustainable end-use in the future. We ensure sustainable harvesting practices supporting the preservation of forest ecosystem services, such as biodiversity and carbon capture. This responsible economic use of the hardwood is good news for the forest, the economy and the planet.”
The Saxony-Anhalt State Forest Service’s south division manages the area around Leuna, about 21,500 hectares of mainly broadleaf forest – and the first truck with beechwood was delivered from this forest to the biorefinery in November.