UPM Biofuels began production of wood-based diesel biofuels at its Lapeenranta, Finland, biorefinery in January 2015. In May 2017, the company received the world's first certification of sustainability for its biofuels. The recognition came from the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials in Geneva, Switzerland. The RSB verifies the sustainability and reliability of feedstock sourcing and production. The organization is one of the European Commission's approved voluntary schemes, which can be used to show compliance with the EU Renewable Energy Directive's criteria.
For RSB certification, UPM's biofuels, known as UPM BioVerno, were evaluated against 12 principles. These include not only on greenhouse gas savings of up to 80% compared to fossil fuels, but biodiversity, human rights and environmental and social responsibility throughout the value chain. BioVerno diesel fuel is made from crude tall oil, the majority of it coming from UPM's three large pulp mills in Finland. The refinery is now producing 120 million liters of fuel annually.
The process also generates naphtha, which can be used as an additive for regular gasoline. Other side streams of the BioVerno manufacturing process include turpentine, pitch and sodium bisulphite--used to produce perfumes, bleaches or bioplastics.
UPM's goal is to reach a point where no waste from the company's mills is landfilled or burned. In Finland, UPM aims to stop landfilling waste within a few more years. Globally, the company intends to reach its goal by the year 2030. Said Sari, Mannonen, vice president, UPM Biofuels, "Throughout the industry, side streams, residue and waste should be viewed as business opportunities, not as problems. We need to see the forest for the trees."
Chuck Swann is senior editor of Paperitalo Publications.