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We strive to continuously reduce water use at our pulp, paper and board mills. Reducing the water demand of our mills helps to improve the energy and material efficiency of our production.
Water management is one of our long-term focus areas. Our environmental targets include quantitative and qualitative targets for process water discharges.
Our assessments of water-related risks in our operations and our supply chain indicate that almost all of Stora Enso’s production units are located in regions where water is a relatively abundant resource.
Almost all of the water we use directly comes from lakes and rivers, and around 95% of this total volume is recycled back to the environment. This recycling occurs either after appropriate treatment (for process water), or without treatment where this is not necessary (for cooling water).
Water plays a central role in our pulp, paper and board production processes. The structure of paper is dependent on water, as hydrogen bonds are needed to keep the wood fibres together. Water is also used for cooling machinery at the mills, for cleaning, and as a carrier of energy in the form of steam. Water is additionally needed as a medium to carry fibres through production processes.
Water also plays a key role in creating the electricity we use and purchase, particularly in hydropower plants. Our mills producing solid wood products additionally need low volumes of water in their manufacturing processes.​
All our wastewater streams are carefully purified in our treatment plants before being released back into the natural environment. This is essential, since impurities in water discharges can harm ecosystems in lakes, rivers and other natural water bodies.
Stora Enso uses top class wastewater treatment systems to ensure that the water we release is purified, ecologically safe, and meets all regulatory requirements. Our water treatment systems also recycle water within mills where feasible, reducing the need for water intake.
We strive to continuously improve water management along our supply chain in order to manage our water-related risks. We require high quality water management from our suppliers as a part of our responsible sourcing. Water issues also are an integral element in our sustainable forest management and land use.
Trees need water to grow, and forests play a vital role in the water cycle, for instance by storing and purifying water. Both natural and planted forests use more water than other types of vegetation cover, including cropland and pastureland.
Forests’ significant contributions to the hydrological balance include their positive impacts on water quality. In forests pollutants are filtered out of rainwater by the undergrowth and forest litter in the topsoil. Forests also reduce soil erosion and the consequent accumulation of sediments in water bodies downstream.
Stora Enso does not establish tree plantations in hydrologically sensitive areas. We carefully monitor soil conditions and the availability of water in our plantations. Eucalypt species utilise water efficiently, since they need less water per unit of produced biomass than agricultural crops.
We participate actively in various international initiatives related to water. These initiatives include the CEO Water Mandate of the UN Global Compact and the work of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development on water risk assessment tools. Stora Enso is also actively participating in the Water Footprint Network and in the development of an international ISO standard for water accounting.