UPM Timber's new Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) has been calculated for one cubic metre of dried sawn timber and it covers all UPM’s sawmills and timber grades. The EPD is a standardised, third-party verified, and internationally comparable way to report the environmental impacts of UPM's sawn timber from raw material production to final disposal of the product.
The product’s carbon footprint and other environmental impacts and indicators are increasingly important criteria in the selection of building materials.
"The EPD provides our customers and partners transparent information about the environmental impacts of our activities and products. It allows customers to make informed choices between different products. Customers can use the EPD to assess the environmental impact of their own operations, or the environmental impacts of a building, for example," says Eeva Laaksonen, Quality and Environment Manager at UPM Timber.
Information on the carbon footprint and other environmental impacts of sawn timber
EPD reporting is based on life cycle assessment (LCA) (ISO 14040 and 14040) and international standards (ISO 14025 and 15804), which guide the preparation of environmental declarations for construction products. The life cycle assessment of sawn timber for UPM Timber's EPD covers the product stage, the manufacturing stage, the end-of-life stage and the reuse, recycling and recovery potential.
"The environmental impacts of the product thus take into account, among other things, the procurement of wood raw material from the forest and its transport to the sawmill, the facturing and transport of the sawn timber to the customer, and the impact of deconstruction and waste disposal," says Miia Liikanen, Researcher at UPM’s North European Research Centre.
The EPD describes the life cycle environmental impacts of UPM's sawn timber in more than 13 different impact categories. The results include i.a. product's impact on climate change, eutrophication, acidification, ozone depletion and depletion of fossil energy sources, minerals and metals.
As climate targets in construction become more common, customers are currently particularly interested in the impact of products on climate change. Sawn timber is a renewable material that stores biogenic carbon and can be used to replace fossil raw materials in various applications. The EPD shows the biogenic and fossil greenhouse gas emissions at different life cycle stages of UPM's sawn timber.
"At the time the product leaves the sawmill for the customer, it has stored significantly more biogenic carbon dioxide during the growth of the wood than fossil greenhouse gas emissions have generated in its production. The biogenic CO2 remains stored in the product and is released back into the atmosphere when, for example, the discarded timber is used as energy," Liikanen says.
Aiming for constantly lower emissions
UPM Timber aims to be a pioneer in its industry, especially in terms of sustainability. Thanks to fossil-free production, UPM Timber's emissions are already among the lowest in the industry. The EPD allows the company to further improve its own operations. The emission reductions also benefit customers, as they reduce the carbon footprint of their operations and products.
"The EPD helps to identify stages in the product’s life cycle where further reductions in environmental impact can be made. We already use low-emission rail and LNG shipments, but there is still room for emission reductions in the transport of products to customers. Even small choices make a difference," Eeva Laaksonen concludes.
Text: Janne Suokas