UPM develops cleaner ways to run paper mills

UPM’s Changshu Mill in China is one of the most advanced paper mills in the world. It was created to produce a variety of high-quality products as cleanly and as efficiently as possible.

This is really a showcase and benchmark,” says General Manager Pentti Putkinen. “Changshu Mill was developed to lead the way not only for UPM, but for the entire global industry.”

The mill can produce fine and technical papers, and this unusual flexibility is extremely challenging, particularly when sustainability is such a high priority. Timo Heinonen, who was Project Director, uses water as an example.

“Water is important in paper production, but we want to minimise water usage,” he explains. “Multiple products use different raw materials, but we clean and reuse the same water. After purification water is returned to River Yangtze.”

Sustainability is the key

Water usage is now approximately 5-6 cubic metres per tonne, but UPM is not satisfied with this impressively low figure. The company aims to cut current usage in half within a few years.

The Changshu Mill also has advanced methods of reducing air emissions and effluent discharge, including cutting-edge gas desulfurization and water denitrification. High efficiency reduces energy usage, helping both the environment and cost savings. These are concrete benefits of UPM’s philosophy of resource efficiency and minimising impact on the environment.

“Sustainability is a top priority for UPM, and I don’t mean only clean technology,” continues Putkinen. “We also focus on operations, such as the safety and well-being of workers.”

Highly valued partnership

Another key to this philosophy is responsible sourcing. UPM wants to work with partners who share the same ideas on sustainability.

“We audit important partners,” explains Heinonen. “We went to different sites of our construction contractors to see for ourselves how they run their operations. We see their respect for the environment and the health and safety of their workers. With all our sourcing we find partners with the same values as us.”

The More with Biofore in China Programme aims to improve UPM’s global leadership in environmental performance and utilising future technologies. The Changshu paper mill is a pilot to see how to further improve sustainability.

“The mill can be used as a development spearhead,” Heinonen says. “We will continue to improve, and the knowledge gained in Changshu can be transferred to UPM mills everywhere around the world.”

Text: David J. Cord


Bio and Forest Industry

Sales: €9.8 billion

Employees: 19,300

Kaupallinen yhteistyö

Organisaation tiedot


Our vision - We lead the forest-based bioindustry into a sustainable, innovation-driven, and exciting future. The competence, integrity and drive of our people make us unique.Our purpose - We create value by seizing the limitless potential of bioeconomy.