In 2021, SCA generated a climate benefit amounting to 10.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide – more than emissions from all private vehicles in Sweden. Key drivers for these results: high growth rates in our forests, low emissions, and forest raw materials becoming products that replace fossil-based alternatives, so that carbon can be kept in the ground.  “It’s fantastic, but we need to accelerate the pace of our climate work to achieve our future goals,” says Hans Djurberg, Head of Sustainability at SCA. 

Image above: SCA's Climate benefit 2021.

Growing forests sequester carbon dioxide and SCA’s forests are growing well. In 2021, net sequestration amounted to 5.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.  
  
“Net sequestration shows how much carbon sequestration has increased during the year. We fell trees at a slower rate than our forests grow, so the timber volume increases all the time – and thus carbon storage also increases,” explains Hans.   
 
Proactive forestry management  
It’s no coincidence that our forests are growing well: SCA has been conducting active, sustainable forest management for many years, continuously investing resources in quickly establishing new generations of forest to grow after trees are felled. Hans continues:  
  
“We take good care of the production capacity of the soil by adapting our choice of tree species to the conditions of specific growing sites and ensuring the availability of the best possible plant materials from our own nurseries. In addition, we ensure high quality distribution and management all the way to our forests, so that saplings are healthy when they are planted.”  
 
Systematic soil preparation, clearing and thinning at the right time are other important factors, as is fertilizing forests where appropriate. The fast-growing contorta pine, which is found on 15 per cent of SCA’s land, is another contributing factor to our forest’s sequestering as much carbon dioxide as they do. Contorta grow 40 per cent faster than ordinary pine, corresponding to sequestration of 800,000 tonnes of extra carbon dioxide a year on SCA land.  
  
Timber volumes doubled  
Timber volumes from Swedish forests have doubled in the past 100 years. In the same period, the total amount of timber in the forests has also doubled. This also applies to SCA’s forests.  
  
“This is exceptional and shows how, through active, sustainable management, we can increase the carbon stock and extract wood to produce climate-smart products – products that play a crucial role in keeping fossil carbon in the ground. These replace products made from steel, plastic and concrete, for example, that have a greater fossil footprint,” says Hans.  
  
New markets around the corner  
The replacement of fossil products with renewable products is known as substitution. In 2021, SCA’s substitution effect amounted to 5.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide – 5.8 million tonnes that could be kept in the ground due to SCA’s products.  
  
“These are impressive figures, and in future we’ll be able to enter new product areas and thereby replace even more fossil materials with products from our forests. For example, we’ll start producing liquid biofuels together with fuel chain St1 and by using fuel that replaces fossil alternatives, we’ll have a substitution effect in an area where we haven’t previously been active. Another key aspect of our climate work is to use every part of our trees as efficiently as possible. SCA makes sawn wood products from all the wood that can be used for this purpose, with the remainder becoming other renewable products such as packaging paper, pulp and bioenergy. Of the sawn wood products, 90 per cent are long-lasting products, which sequester carbon for extended periods of time,” Hans continues.   
 
Emissions halved  
So, SCA contributes to climate benefits in two ways: 5.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide are sequestered by growing forests; and 5.8 million tonnes stays in the ground due to sustainable products replacing products such as plastic and concrete. In total, this amounts to 11.2 tonnes. Of this, 0.7 tonnes are deducted for the fossil carbon dioxide that SCA generates through inputs, production and transport.  
 
“Due to our systematic approach and transition to biofuels, our fossil emissions have halved since 2010 and our industrial processes are today 96 per cent fossil-free,” says Hans.  
  
SCA continues to reduce emissions by, among other things, making its operations increasingly energy efficient with the help of investment and continuous improvements.  
  
“We’re also working to optimise our logistics chain by streamlining our shipping activities, where we are replacing fossil fuels. Our long-term goal is to become completely fossil-free,” says Hans.  
 
Sustainable energy as an added bonus  
The calculation of SCA’s climate benefit does not include several positive aspects such as the climate benefit of wind turbines on SCA’s land. SCA also helps the outside world to become fossil-free by supplying surplus heat from its factories as district heating to surrounding municipalities. One example is the expanded pulp mill in Timrå, which contributes 0.4 TWh of surplus green electricity through energy efficiency, equivalent to a medium-sized CHP plant.  
 
Significantly increased climate benefit  
“A climate benefit of 10.5 million tonnes in one year is a fantastic result, but we’re setting our sights even higher. Our goal is for SCA’s climate benefit to reach 15 million tonnes by 2030. We’ll take a broad-based approach to achieve this, with continued focus on managing our forests and reducing emissions. However, to fully achieve our goal, it will be vital to increase the substitution effect. We’ll increase production so that more fossil alternatives can be replaced, but we will also review our product portfolio to see which products offer the greatest benefit to the climate. Climate benefits will be a crucial factor when deciding on future investment,” concludes Hans.  

Photo: Michael Engman