Paper reinvented

Published 20 September 2019 by Minna Kalajoki Photos by Liisa Valonen
Kati ter Horst leads Stora Enso’s Paper division in changing times. Decline in demand is a fact, sustainability is a must, and customers expect the industry to offer smart solutions to improve their efficiency.

To put things in perspective, paper is still a big business, and Stora Enso is the second biggest paper manufacturer in Europe with a EUR 3 billion annual turnover and 5,000 employees.

Size matters, if you want to optimise your business or scale up innovations. Understanding the big picture is key.

“Knowing your customers and anticipating how their businesses develop is fundamental. We have to be able to offer them products and services that make their operations more efficient,” says Kati ter Horst, Executive Vice President, Division Paper.

Play digital

To help customers enhance their business, digital solutions come into play. Stora Enso has a group-level digital fund to develop new solutions and spread innovation. At best, these innovations can be scaled up to benefit all five divisions.

Digital tools are used, for example, to strengthen customer engagement. With the new tools, customers enjoy more transparency, receive more information and may contact Stora Enso 24/7. The new tools, efficient connections and big data are used not only to create new services for the customers, but also to create innovative business models with them.

At the mill level, digitalisation contributes to taking better decisions in a proactive way. Smart devices and drones are used for control and analysis from a distance. Big data could soon be used in predictive operator maintenance and machine learning.

“In the supply chain, data analytics and digital tools help us predict and plan better, and to give an end-to-end view which is transparent to all parties, including our customers. This enables quick reactions.”

Towards a renewable future

Growing demand for sustainability creates opportunities for the forest industry, which is itself a model example of circular bioeconomy. Stora Enso uses renewable wood from sustainably managed forests. Its mills reuse approximately 96 per cent of their water and its CO2 emissions are constantly being reduced as the share of biomass in internal energy production is high.

More than 90 per cent of Stora Enso paper brands hold ecolabel certification recognising their reduced environmental impact over the product life cycle. The next level of sustainability is to create higher value from residues that are now considered to be waste.

With Stora Enso’s common wood supply, it’s possible to ensure that all of the tree is used: timber goes to sawmills and smaller thinning logs to pulp mills. Chips and sawdust are further used in pulp making and other products. Pulp mill by-products, such as turpentine, lignin and tall oil, are sold to be used for other purposes. The remaining waste is used for bio-based energy production.

“Our ambition is that no waste comes out of our mills.”

Learning from each other

Kati ter Horst has a 22-year career behind her at Stora Enso, most of it in different functions in Holland and Belgium. She has led the Paper division since 2014.

“I really value the expertise and diversity in all its forms at Stora Enso. Our greatest asset is our people, and I am also very proud of my Paper team. It’s our task to ensure that we continue to create value for our customers with our fit-for-purpose paper grades, technical support and efficient ways of working together.”

Paper works well in attracting people to stores and communicating the desired brand image to consumers. There’s more on offer as well.

“We can help our retail customers to replace plastics with fibre-based packaging and improve the functionality of packaging by design and added intelligence. Our biocomposite is already used in H&M’s hangers, and we have a joint initiative with Ikea and H&M to develop a textile manufacturing process based on dissolving pulp.”

Ter Horst emphasises the importance of learning across divisions.

“Innovations, process improvements and testing of new ideas across the Group create opportunities also for Stora Enso’s paper mills,” she concludes.

  • “Knowing your customers and anticipating how their businesses develop is fundamental.” - Kati ter Horst

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