Story | 03/08/2023 15:32:25 | 5 min Read time

Reducing emissions of logistics piece by piece in co-operation

Making UPM Timber's supply chain more sustainable is a puzzle with many small pieces. One step forward is the use of renewable diesel in sawn timber transport from Seikku sawmill to the port of Rauma. A similar co-operation model can be used more widely to reduce emissions even further.

Image: UPM Timber's Logistics Manager Erkki Pietikäinen (left) and CEO of Kuljetusliike Kalevi Huhtala Oy, Kati Huhtala believe that making logistics more sustainable is done piece by piece and requires continuous and open co-operation.

UPM Timber’s production has been fossil-free from the beginning of 2020. Since then, we have aimed to reduce our other emissions.

Currently the most significant single source of emissions at UPM Timber is logistics. As we promise with Setting the Standard, we strive constantly to reduce our emissions to be a forerunner in sustainability in our industry.

The use of renewable fuel is one possibility to make transportation of our sawn timber products from sawmills to customers more sustainable. Compared to regular fossil diesel, using renewable diesel reduces the amount of CO₂ emissions from transportation by up to 80-90%, depending on the renewable fuel used.

Since the beginning of 2023, sawn timber is being transported by trucks that use renewable diesel from UPM Timber's Seikku sawmill in Pori to the port of Rauma. UPM Timber and Kuljetusliike Kalevi Huhtala Oy are working together to reduce logistics emissions.

Huhtala has been transporting sawn timber from Seikku to Rauma for over 30 years. The two companies share a long history together. The use of renewable diesel has been planned already a couple of years.

"Reduction of emissions from logistics is done piece by piece, and this co-operation is one small but promising piece in the whole logistics chain," says UPM Timber's Logistics Manager Erkki Pietikäinen. The CEO of Huhtala, Kati Huhtala agrees.

"It was great to start this together with UPM Timber. Logistics is definitely a field that should be developed into a more sustainable direction," says Huhtala.

Sustainability targets aligned

The co-operation is based on Huhtala filling its trucks with an amount of renewable diesel that corresponds to the amount of diesel needed by UPM Timber's transportation from Seikku to the port of Rauma. Annually, the quantity of sawn timber transported in this way is around half of Seikku's annual production of about 400,000 cubic meters.

Huhtala's and UPM Timber's sustainability targets fit well together. Kati Huhtala mentions as an example that the company is trying to increase the use of renewable diesel in its vehicles more rapidly than the official distribution obligation requires.

The distribution obligation is a way of putting into action the EU’s target of transitioning to the use of renewable energy sources. A national distribution obligation has been established for fuel distributors: they must place a certain minimum percentage of renewable fuels into consumption in addition to fossil fuels. The target is 34% by 2030.

"I believe that we at Huhtala will reach that target much earlier. We want to show that a business can be run while bearing one’s own responsibility for environmental issues," says Kati Huhtala.

Mutual openness and trust have been crucial for the smoothness of the cooperation between UPM Timber and Huhtala. For example, Huhtala provides information that is needed by UPM Timber's customers, so that the co-operation can be carried out transparently.

It costs us less than 5% extra to achieve an up to 90% reduction in CO₂ emissions. I don’t think that is unreasonable at all.
Erkki Pietikäinen

Huhtala has been transporting UPM Timber’s sawn timber products from Seikku sawmill to the port of Rauma for decades. Image: Nealeksandra Photography

The extra price tag is small compared to the effect

Erkki Pietikäinen and Kati Huhtala agree that it is worth paying a little extra for biodiesel compared to regular fossil diesel.

"These kinds of decisions are needed from companies at the moment. In fact, it costs us less than 5% extra to achieve an up to 90% reduction in CO₂ emissions. I don’t think that is unreasonable at all," Pietikäinen says.

"We are living in such a time that words are not enough, concrete action must be taken. Even if these actions cost the company a little extra. This is how it is really measured, who is ready to provide solutions to the common problems we are facing", Kati Huhtala says.

Similar contracts can be made with customers

Erkki Pietikäinen reminds that UPM Timber still has many opportunities to reduce emissions from logistics. The timber transport from Seikku sawmill to the port of Rauma is only one of hopefully many co-operation projects around reducing the timber trucks’ emissions.

In the future, UPM Timber aims to further reduce the emissions caused by logistics. The biodiesel co-operation model of UPM Timber and Huhtala can be applied more widely.

"Basically, it would be possible with a similar arrangement to, for example, carry out sawn timber transportation to a Finnish customer using only biodiesel," says Erkki Pietikäinen.

In our sawmills' internal logistics, electric vehicles are a potential alternative to reduce the use of fossil fuels. In terms of sea logistics in export, UPM’s LNG ships are already transporting some of our sawn timber products from Finland.

"We have to act according to our best knowledge as of this moment. No one knows what new things will be invented for more sustainable logistics in, say, a couple of years. However, now we have to proceed according to what we know at the moment and take concrete actions based on that," Kati Huhtala says.

"We don't just want to talk about sustainability, but put our words into action - also in terms of logistics", Erkki Pietikäinen sums up.


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