Story | 10/30/2023 09:37:13 | 3 min Read time

Behind the scenes: Environmental Manager Sanna Kontinen is an expert on the mills’ eco-practices, wood origin and carbon footprint of WISA plywood

If you want to know more about the origin of the wood used in WISA® plywood or the carbon footprint of plywood, Environmental Manager Sanna Kontinen has the answers. Together with her colleagues at UPM Plywood, she ensures that the plywood production meets the environmental requirements.

WISA® plywood is a responsible choice in many ways. The origin of the wood is known, and – from raw material sourcing onwards – the plywood is manufactured as energy and material-efficiently as possible, adhering to both local regulations and UPM's strict criteria. Moreover, renewable wood raw material sourced from sustainably managed forests serves as a climate change mitigating carbon storage through the entire lifespan of a WISA plywood product.

UPM Plywood does indeed aim to continually reduce its operational emissions and further improve the environmental performance of WISA plywood.

Environmental Manager Sanna Kontinen is responsible for developing operations so that legal compliance is met in all activities. Additionally, she ensures that the operations follow the principles of continuous improvement: the goals must be sufficiently ambitious, and to achieve them, cooperation is conducted throughout the entire organisation.

"Responsible and efficient operations benefit us, the customers and the environment. Environmental data from our operations is used to produce third-party verified carbon footprint and EPD documents, which customers can utilise in their operations," Sanna points out.

The first Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) were voluntarily published by UPM Plywood back in 2019.

Environmental work is indeed challenging in cases where no existing practices can be found. For instance, the EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) that came into force in June imposes requirements on operators to provide origin information to the EU registry. Since the registry does not yet exist, preliminary planning for its implementation is challenging.

Stricter carbon accounting and environmental requirements

Sanna is originally from the Finnish town of Ristiina, where Europe's largest softwood plywood mill, UPM Pellos, is also located. Here, she began her career twenty years ago, first as an intern and later as an environmental and occupational safety engineer while studying environmental engineering.

“I have had the opportunity to witness and participate during a time when environmental regulations have become more stringent and our own goals more ambitious,” says Sanna, referring to UPM’s sustainability objectives for 2030.

The best parts of Sanna's job are her colleagues and the multidisciplinary team, which encompasses a diverse range of people, from lawyers to experts in various stages of production. She also engages in fruitful collaboration with different UPM business units as well as with external experts.

"I also appreciate that I can promote matters with an entrepreneurial attitude in the way I deem best with the support of the organisation. Delving into matters – especially if it concerns the interpretation of regulations – and finding solutions to challenges takes time and is never unambiguous. We have however always found a solution eventually that has then become standard practice,” Sanna states.

Text: Anu Ritvanen

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