The future of packaging is circular and to be achieved with solutions that are net positive for both climate and biodiversity. This future is already taking shape in Oulu, a city in northern Finland, where the foundation stone for Stora Enso’s new board line was laid on 30 May.

We at Stora Enso believe that renewable materials will shape the future of circular packaging. In this future, plastics will be replaced with renewables, all packaging will be recyclable, and low emissions are harmonized with high-quality standards.

To shape this future into reality, the founding stone of our new, high-volume consumer board line in Oulu, a city of approximately 200,000 inhabitants in northern Finland, was laid on 30 May.

When ready in 2025, the new facility will have the capacity to produce up to 750 000 tonnes of renewable packaging materials from well-managed northern forest fiber. The new capacity empowers our customers to make more sustainable choices for their food and beverage packaging, as it allows for the utilisation of renewable materials and promotes circular design principles: bio-based, recyclable, low carbon, and offers alternatives to plastic.

"Diese Investition ist das Herzstück unserer wachsenden Verpackungssegmente. Karton ist ein vielseitiger, wachsender Werkstoff, bei dem wir bereits über profunde Kenntnisse und ein solides Verständnis der Bedürfnisse und Wünsche unserer Kunden verfügen. Diese neuen Materialien unterstützen Lösungen zum Ersatz von Kunststoffen, wachsen aber auch in ihren derzeitigen traditionellen Endverwendungen", sagt Andreas Birmoser, SVP, BU Consumer Board, Stora Enso.

Six reasons to choose Oulu

Leveraging the production site in Oulu into a large-scale operation with two lines serves not only the European markets but Stora Enso’s global customer base.

Renewable packaging is one of the core growth areas for Stora Enso. Here are six good reasons why the future of packaging is shaped in Oulu.

1. Demand: The global demand for sustainable packaging materials is rapidly increasing, with projections indicating that the global consumer board market will reach 11 million tonnes by 2030. The demand for consumer board will be particularly robust in key packaging applications, especially in the frozen and chilled food sectors.

2. Northern Fiber: Thanks to our long tradition we can provide our customers with the best, highest quality fiber from northern forests. Northern Finland has extensive forest coverage, with approximately 86% of the land area covered by forests. Furthermore, forests are carefully managed according to third-party verified certification programs to ensure the long-term forest health.

3. Location: The Oulu region offers an excellent location for raw materials with ample potential in the form of available wood supplies. Additionally, the proximity of a deep-sea harbor ensures efficient logistics, while its status as a major university town provides access to a pool of qualified personnel. Stora Enso has a history of paper manufacturing at the site since 1990 and currently operates a fully renewed packaging materials line in the same facility where the new line will be housed.

4. Facility: Our state-of-the-art production line will be based on renewable energy and offer us flexible production set-up. The investment is fully aligned with Stora Enso’s sustainability commitments. It will support circularity by further enhancing the recycling performance of the Packaging Materials division’s product portfolio. The Oulu site’s total scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions will remain at a low level as they were already reduced by 80% during the first conversion in 2021.

5. Product: Equipped with the latest technology, the production line at Oulu will enable the combination of different fiber and pulp types to create unique market products for food and beverage packaging. The boards produced at this facility will be both lightweight and strong, thanks to Stora Enso’s innovative FiberLight Tec™ technology and carefully selected raw materials. Moreover, these materials will offer an exceptional combination of high yield, visual characteristics, and printability, setting them apart in the market.

6. Know-how: Oulu site’s skilled and knowledgeable personnel will benefit our customers. Stora Enso has long traditions in Oulu, with the first mill established as early as 1935, and paper manufacturing at this site since 1990. Stora Enso is currently running one fully renewed packaging materials line in the same mill that will house the newly invested line, too. In terms of employment, the project will create approximately

300 new jobs at the mill and in support functions, with an additional 1,500 indirect employment opportunities.

“We build on existing platforms to advance our future profitable growth. With smooth logistics and a highly developed supply chain in the Oulu region and beyond, we can serve our customers efficiently in all directions. It is crucial that we build on what we know but also expand,” Birmoser says.

"Wir bauen auf bestehenden Plattformen auf, um unser künftiges profitables Wachstum voranzutreiben. Mit einer reibungslosen Logistik und einer hoch entwickelten Lieferkette in der Region Oulu und darüber hinaus können wir unsere Kunden in alle Richtungen effizient bedienen. Es ist entscheidend, dass wir auf dem aufbauen, was wir wissen, aber auch expandieren", sagt Birmoser.

Pro Carton Mitglieder, Förderer, Partner