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Building a sustainable future in China

​​This is Beihai Mill. This brand new mill in Guangxi province, with its annual production capacity of 450 000 tonnes of liquid packaging board and other high-grade consumer board products, will help to meet growing consumer demand for safe and high quality renewable packaging in the Asia Pacific region. Sustainability has been an integral part of the mill’s construction and forestry operations right from the start. Noel Morrin, EVP, Sustainability, gives his insights as the mill starts up.
Where does the raw material for the board come from? How do you ensure its sustainability?
Noel Morrin:  Chemical pulp for the mill is currently sourced from North and South America, mainly from Veracel pulp mill, our joint venture in Brazil. All this pulp is certified according to Forest Stewardship Council’s® (FSC*) Chain of Custody/Controlled Wood scheme. As of the fourth quarter this year, eucalyptus will be sourced for mechanical pulp production from our own tree plantations in Guangxi.

Can you tell us more about these tree plantations?
NM: Stora Enso has been leasing and managing eucalyptus tree plantations in Guangxi since 2002. Today these plantations cover nearly 86 000 hectares, and all of them are certified with both FSC and the Chinese Forest Certification Council (CFCC). This ensures that sustainable forestry management practices are applied from the planning stage right through to regeneration, with environmental and social values highly prioritised. Land areas totaling 1 300 hectares are protected due to their high environmental values.

How do you make sure that your land use practices are accepted by local communities?
NM: This has been a key challenge for our operations in Guangxi for many years, requiring a lot of work from us. Some 38% of the lands we lease are social lands leased from village collectives, individual households and local forest farms. Sometimes these lands have been repeatedly sub-leased so extensively that the original owners have not benefited from increased land rents.

Since 2009 we have been reviewing and correcting the related social land lease contracts, to make sure that they are all legally valid and socially acceptable. On top of this, our local team has conducted face-to-face interviews with villagers to ensure that they accept the contracts. If there are irreconcilable cases, we terminate our land leases in a responsible manner. By the end of the first quarter 2016, 64% of our land lease contracts were free of any contractual defects. The rest of the contracts are currently being processed. We report on progress on this issue quarterly in our Interim Reports.

What about the mill’s environmental performance – will the mill release significant emissions to the air, soil or water?
NM: The mill uses state-of-the-art best available technology (BAT), and has duly received permits and associated limits relating to its environmental performance. Some of these limits are even stricter than those applied in the Nordic countries. We conduct online measurements for both air emissions and effluent releases. The online data is communicated directly to the local regulator, and we will also report on these topics in our annual sustainability report. The mill is now in the process of being certified to the environmental management system ISO 14001.

The mill will use coal as an energy source. Why is that – and how does this fit in with Stora Enso’s plans to combat global warming?
NM: Currently coal is the only feasible energy source for any industrial project of this scale in Beihai. There are no supply chains for non-fossil fuels in Southern China as yet, though we have begun to investigate the feasibility of establishing such chains as part of our long-term planning. By doing this we are already seeking ways to make a gradual shift away from coal to biomass and other non-fossil fuels. The mill’s boiler is technically able to use a mix of fuels, and it will start using modest amounts of wastewater sludge, forest residuals and other side streams from our production processes as co-fuel towards the end of 2016.

How have you overcome the challenge of sourcing coal sustainably in China?
NM: Our colleagues in Sourcing carried out a screening process to find a high-quality local coal supplier able to make a commitment to work towards our sustainability standards. Seven suppliers were interviewed and visited. The non-profit organisation Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) reviewed our Sourcing function’s supplier selection procedures, and concluded that the process was rigorous. The selected supplier has agreed to work towards fulfillment of the requirements of Stora Enso’s Supplier Code of Conduct, which is a must for any suppliers hoping to do business with us. Stora Enso has twice audited the preferred supplier in recent months with regard to sustainability issues, and areas requiring improvement have been identified, acknowledged and acted upon. Follow-up audits will be conducted to confirm progress.

How many jobs will Stora Enso’s operations create in the region?
NM: Currently our mill and forestry operations directly employ more than 1 000 persons, and according to a UN Development Programme study conducted in 2010 they are expected to create thousands of additional jobs along our supply chains over the coming years. During the peak of the mill construction work we employed up to 5 500 workers on site.
Stora Enso’s operations employ many young people and workers new to the industry. How do you ensure their safety?
NM: Safety is a top priority for us and has been an essential part of our daily work in Beihai right from the start, in our forestry operations and during the mill construction. We have been training our mill personnel since autumn 2013. Our colleagues at Beihai Mill take safety very seriously, and last year the people working on the mill site made more than 30 safety observations per person on average. Over the past year we have seen a very significant improvement in safety on our plantations as traditional manual harvesting has been replaced by mechanised processes.

The way that we constantly give feedback on safe and unsafe behaviour to each other ensures that we walk the talk, while also demonstrating how much we care about our colleagues’ safety. The mill’s operations are due to be certified under the OHSAS 18001 safety management system by the end of 2016.

Facts about Stora Enso in Guangxi​​
- Beihai Mill is located in Guangxi province in Southern China.
- The mill’s annual production capacity amounts to 450 000 tonnes of liquid packaging board and other high-grade consumer board products.
- Stora Enso also manages nearly 90 000 hectares of eucalyptus tree plantations in Guangxi province.
- Altogether more than 1 000 people are employed at the mill and in the associated forestry operations.


*Stora Enso Communications’ FSC® trademark license number is FSC-N001919.